Get it right on helplines

By Jane Gilmore
Wed 3 May 14:37 AEST
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This article discusses domestic violence and domestic homicide.

When Greg Floyd murdered Ora Holt in Wangaratta on ANZAC day , the case attracted lots of  media attention.

It was a powerful and horrific story – including the fact that Floyd also killed himself and the "good guy" commentary Uncovered has reported on elsewhere .

And yet, in outlet after outlet, either there were no links to helplines and resources, or the links provided were to Men’s Helpline or Lifeline. In other words, the media dealt with it as a mental health issue, rather than as an opportunity to provide information to the many victims who would have been among the audience.

The Age , , The Border Mail and Channel 9 all provided only mental health resources – not domestic violence helplines. this.

Even worse some reports didn’t include any referral services at all. The ABC , The Wangaratta Chronicle , The Daily Mail , and video pages from Channel 7 and Channel 10 had nothing at the bottom of the articles.

Our role in reporting on such tragic events is not to forget the facts or the victims, which is implicitly what we are doing when we concentrate only on the tragedy of the perpetrator’s suicide and not the murder of an innocent woman.

Press Council guidelines on the reporting of domestic violence are very clear about this. “Where lawful and appropriate, it is strongly recommended that published material relating to family violence that could be distressing should be accompanied by information about sources of assistance.”

The ANROWS report, Media representations of violence against women and their children , noted in 2015 that “few media reports included information for women about where to seek help, advice or further information. A mere 4.3 percent of items (19/444) included such information”.

Dr Georgina Sutherland, lead author of the report told Uncovered “we know that most people don’t know where to get help. So there’s a role for media in help promotion.”

Victims of domestic violence who read such stories and are in fear of their lives need to know where to go to ask for help. This is both a professional requirement and an ethical responsibility of journalism.