Phil Walsh, the coach of the Adelaide Crows was murdered on Friday in a shocking act of family violence. He was a hugely respected man, a good man and his loss is a tragedy.
Most of us knew nothing about Phil Walsh before yesterday. But now we do. The blanket media coverage since the news of his murder broke early on Friday morning has been impossible to miss. Breakfast TV shows instantly abandoned their schedule and went immediately into rolling coverage, a rare response reserved for only the biggest stories of national importance.
The murder of the popular AFL coach has led every broadcast news bulletin for the past 48 hours and has dominated the front page of newspapers in every city in Australia. It’s been the top story on every news site and is trending across all social media platforms.
Phil Walsh has been widely eulogised by everyone from the CEO of the AFL, Gill McLachlan, to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott who hed an impromptu press conference and called for a moment’s silence. It was a very public and symbolic show of grief.
He’s not the only one. Players from all sporting codes have been embracing their competitors and bowing their heads for a minute’s silence in highly charged emotional moments of remembrance on playing fields around the country.
A mountain of flowers is piling up outside the Adelaide Crows headquarters as fans of the team weep openly into the microphones proferred to them by a swarm of news crews. “How do you feel?” they’re being asked. Many are unable to speak through their sobs, despite not knowing Walsh personally. Their heartbreak is real.
So too is the heartbreak of the Walsh family. They have cruelly and unexpectedly been dealt the harshest blow, effectively losing two family members in one tragic moment. As his daughter rushes back from the US, Phil’s wife Meredith is still in hospital but the torment that she has to come home to is unimaginable.
Thankfully, there are only a few families who could describe to you what the Walsh family is going through right now. But here’s what we know for sure: this year, there are at least 34 families who know exactly what it is like to lose a loved one in a horrific act of family violence.
And while we now all know a lot about Phil Walsh and what a good man he was, we know virtually nothing about the 34 women and children who have also been murdered in acts of family violence this year. In almost every instance, we don’t even know their names.
We can’t tell you what they looked like or what they did. We don’t know what their families and friends loved most about them.
These are just some of the women who have lost their lives as a result of family violence or suspected family violence this year (post continues after the gallery):
Family violence is shocking. Murder is shocking. But it seems like we’re no longer shocked when women or children are murdered by someone in their family. This year, two women have been murdered every week in acts of family violence and these victims received virtually no media coverage. It’s extremely rare for the murder of a woman by someone in her family ever leads a news bulletin or makes it to the top of a news site or onto a front page.