‘Don’t feel safe’: Outrage grows at deaths of Ballarat women

Rebecca Young, Hannah McGuire and Samantha Murphy have all died this year, allegedly at the hands of men.

Rebecca Young, Hannah McGuire and Samantha Murphy have all died this year, allegedly at the hands of men. Photos: Supplied

Hundreds of people are expected to attend a snap rally in the Victorian city of Ballarat, as outrage grows about the alleged killings of three local women.

Friday’s “Enough is Enough” march has been organised by Sissy Austin, who spoke earlier this year of being knocked unconscious by an unknown attacker while running through a local forest.

“Women are not feeling safe in our town. Women are living on eggshells, living on edge. Putting on the runners and going for a run feels like risk-taking behaviour, it is not and we shouldn’t be feeling like this,” Austin wrote on the event’s Facebook page.

“We ask for community members from near and far to stand with us. Fight with us, fight for us. We must stand in solidarity, to fight for justice and to feel less alone. This is a national crisis and should be treated as such.”

Already 350 people have already responded to her Facebook note, as the local mayor appealed for people to call-out gendered violence and disrespect following the alleged killings this year of Samantha Murphy, Rebecca Young and Hannah McGuire.

“It is absolutely heartbreaking,” Ballarat City mayor Des Hudson said.

The body of 23-year-old McGuire was found in a burnt-out car at Scarsdale, about 25 kilometres south of Ballarat, on April 5, a few hours after she was reported missing by her parents.

Lachlan Young, 21, reportedly McGuire’s former partner, has been charged with her murder.

Lawyer speaks on behalf of Hannah McGuire's family

Source: ABC News

Earlier this year, another local man, 22-year-old Patrick Orren Stephenson, was charged with the murder of mother-of-three Samantha Murphy. The 51-year-old disappeared in February and her body has never been found.

Rebecca Young, a mother of five, was found dead in a Sebastopol home on February 16, the suspected victim of murder-suicide.

Hudson said the Ballarat region was still safe, despite the spate of recent tragedies.

“There is a commonality that is running through each of those three circumstances where they lost their lives due to the behaviour and decisions of males,” he said.

Hudson said the killings did not reflect his community.

“We have to make a stand,” he said.

“We have to call out inappropriate comments, and actions, to be able to make sure it is safe for every person, regardless of gender, of sexuality, of ethnic or religious background.”

Womens Health Grampians chief executive Marianne Hendron said councils and influential organisations must unite to improve safety for women and vulnerable people.

“It’s not a Ballarat issue,” Hendron said..

“Sadly, in Australia, 23 women have have died already this year, at least that we know of.”

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan said violence against women was unacceptable and had to stop.

“Women don’t just deserve the right, they must have the right to live and work and move safely around our community,” she said.

Outside court on Tuesday, McGuire’s family members were emotional as they stood behind their lawyer, Brooke Tamanika, while she addressed media.

“As you can imagine, this is a very devastating time for the family, for Hannah’s loved ones and for our community as a whole,” she said.

She asked for people to respect the family’s privacy as they mourned their daughter and sister.

The McGuire family’s business, the National Hotel in Clunes, was due to reopen on Wednesday after closing suddenly due to “unforeseen circumstances” on Friday.

“Thank you everyone for your love, support and kind words,” a message on the pub’s Facebook page read.

“Our hearts are broken.’You weren’t just a star to us. You were our whole damn sky.’ Miss you Princess!”

National Domestic Violence Service: 1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732

If you are in immediate danger call triple zero (000)

-with AAP

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