Nosy neighbours should call for help

OPINION

By REBECCA MUGRIDGE

Growing up you knew your neighbours, you kept an eye out for each other, and you reported crime. You may have even had Neighbourhood Watch where you lived. As technology advanced so did ways neighbourhoods stayed alert and connected.

Facebook now abounds with posts in community groups alerting others about hooning, theft and suspicious characters. In a Sunshine Coast neighbourhood group on Tuesday morning a post declared a warning that two young men might be “casing houses” and they named the street the pair had been spotted walking down at 1.30am. Within an hour the post had more than 40 comments as locals tried to piece together what was going on and tagged friends to keep an eye out.

Since COVID-19 people have also been quick to ‘dob in’ a neighbour for a party or breaking social distancing rules. According to The Age one police hotline had more than 22,500 calls reporting breaches of stay-at-home rules in just a two-week time period.

So, what happened on April 15 in a suburb of Adelaide?

Young mother Kim Murphy was brutally murdered in her own unit after her ex-partner allegedly kicked in her door and attacked her for hours and none of her neighbours seemed to be in a Neighbourhood Watch mode. Reports said the 22-year-old cried out for help for up to 19 hours, yet no one called the police for help.

Not one call was made.

When interviewed witnesses told police they did hear screams and one distraught neighbour said they had heard cries for help and even heard a man shout that he was going to kill the occupant.

Yet no one called the police. Detective Superintendent Des Bray stated that Murphy suffered a horrible, violent death and it was a “sad reflection on society that police were not called at the time”.

Domestic Violence campaigners have long stressed that when it comes to domestic violence crime for various reasons people often just do not get involved and suspected crimes are not reported to police.

According to journalist Sherele Moody from the Red Heart Campaign, Murphy was the 14th woman killed this year. Social workers have been very vocal in their concerns that some abusers may be using the lock downs with Covid-19 as a means of control and emotional abuse. They say there will be women in danger, either caught in isolation with abusers who cannot reach out for help or at risk of violent ex-partners knowing they are at home.

We owe it to Murphy and others like her to be more proactive. We should share a duty of care towards one another and contact the police when it matters. Because for Murphy, one concerned phone call from any of her neighbours might have saved her life.

 

If you or someone you know is in danger, please call 000 in an emergency and if you hear something not right in your neighbourhood, please call the police. Other support services available: Qld DV Connect,  24 hour Domestic Violence Crisis Line 1800 800 098, 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline: 131 114

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