Karen Belej

Mr CRISP (Mildura) — Since the sentencing of Karen Belej's killer — and let us be very clear, that is what he is — we have seen an outpouring of support and community outrage at a person's life being reduced in value to a mere six years. The sentence gives no justice to Karen and her family, and frighteningly, nor does it act as a deterrent. Over the last two weeks, my office has been inundated with people queueing up to add their name to our Justice for Karen petition.

No-one will ever know the true scale of Karen's experience — her fear, her helplessness and her pain. What we do know is that she must have been desperate, as most victims of family violence are. We also know that she had hopes and dreams for her future, just as her family and friends had hopes and dreams for her and the life she should have had. One person with one gun stole that from Karen, and no amount of legal speak will ever convince me that a six-year sentence is adequate.

Family violence affects a staggering number of people. Men, women and children are victims of abuse in the place they should feel safest — their own home. I would be happy to see Mildura leading the statistics in many things, but I will not accept it leading the state in domestic violence rates. We need to change attitudes and we must start from the top — with the court sentencing system. We need a whole community approach to a whole community problem.

Our community has stood up and very clearly said, 'Enough is enough'. We are calling for a reset of our sentencing system so that the horror of a crime, such as the one committed against Karen, is better reflected by the sentence handed down to the perpetrator. Remember: evil triumphs when good people do nothing.

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