Ballarat rally crowds
Crowds have united against men's violence after three women were allegedly murdered in Ballarat. Image by Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS
  • crime, law and justice

‘Enough’: community rage over violence against women

April 12, 2024

There were tears and there were cheers but the overwhelming feeling at a rally against gendered violence in a Victorian community rocked by three recent killings was rage. 

“Enough is enough,” rang loud through the streets of Ballarat on Friday as more than 1000 community members and allies marched.

Holding signs reading “Stop killing women”, “Not one more” and “Domestic violence. Stop the silence”, the women, men and children voiced their rage over the killings of Samantha Murphy, Rebecca Young and Hannah McGuire.

All allegedly died at the hands of men in the past two months.

Mick Murphy
 Samantha Murphy’s husband Mick Murphy has thanked police and the local community for their support. Image by Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS 

Ms Murphy was allegedly murdered by 22-year-old tradesman Patrick Orren Stephenson after leaving her Ballarat home for a run on the morning of February 4.

Her husband Mick Murphy thanked police who had been scouring the Enfield State Park on Thursday and Friday but were unsuccessful in finding her body.

“They’ll find Sam and when they do, we’ll have a big celebration,” he said on Friday.

“I just want to take the opportunity to thank the community of Ballarat for getting behind us, out in the bush searching for Sam every day.

“It’s just unbelievable.”

Ballarat mother-of-six Rebecca Young was allegedly stabbed to death by her partner on February 16. 

He took his own life in a suspected murder-suicide at their Sebastopol home.

Members of the Ballarat community at a rally
 Men, women and children have gathered in Ballarat to rally against violence in their community. Image by Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS 

Ms Young’s sister Jessica Young described the event as bittersweet.

While it was too late to save her sister, she said awareness raised by the rally could help save others.

“Rebecca should still be here today,” she said.

“Violence against women is never OK.

“I will always love and miss my beautiful big sister.

“Fly high Bec.”

Ms Young’s mother Tracey remembered her daughter as “the most incredible person” – beautiful, funny and kind.

“You never think that your baby would have to endure so much violence,” she said.

Hannah McGuire
 The body of Hannah McGuire, 23, was found in a burnt out car in Victorian bushland near Ballarat. Image by Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS 

The body of 23-year-old Hannah McGuire was found in a burnt-out car at Scarsdale, about 25km south of Ballarat, on April 5, with 21-year-old Lachlan Young charged with her murder.

Ms McGuire’s friends cried as their statement was read out at the rally, describing her as an amazing woman, friend and support.

“You will forever be a little sister to me … you were my hype girl,” the statement said.

“Heaven has gained an angel – goodbye for now.”

Organiser Sissy Austin, who was herself savagely attacked while on a run in 2023, said the turnout was an incredible show of support for the families of Samantha Murphy, Rebecca Young and Hannah McGuire.

“Families who are experiencing unimaginable grief, loss and sorrow,” she said.

“We’re here to fight for our rights to live safely in our community for generations to come,” she previously told AAP.

Ballarat community rally
 The Ballarat community says enough is enough when it comes to male violence. Image by Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS 

Ms Austin said the three killings in little more than two months had stunned the community.

“Women are living on eggshells,” she said.

Ballarat councillor Belinda Coates praised the incredible show of support as crowds wrapped around the streets.

“We’re here in love and support, but we’re also here with a good dose of rage, a lot of anger,” she said.

Federal Ballarat MP Catherine King said violence against women needed to stop.

“It is a responsibility that we all share but let’s be frank – men need to change,” she said.

One in four Australian women and roughly one in 14 men have been subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner since age 15, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.