'The unacceptable has become acceptable': NT domestic violence campaign reaches Parliament House

A Northern Territory grassroots domestic violence campaign has won the support of the nation's top political leaders who put on a historic show of solidarity with the cause at Parliament House in Canberra.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten stood arm in arm with No More campaigner Charlie King outside the building.

 Politicians and indigenous leaders link arms for the No More anti-domestic violence campaign at Parliament House in Canberra.

"The unacceptable has become acceptable; this is unacceptable, the levels of domestic violence in this country," Mr King said.
"Why should we live with that?"

The linking of arms has become the symbol of the No More campaign, seen on sporting fields and at community events around the NT.

Mr King urged action by men and women in communities, as well as political and business leaders and even sponsors and sporting clubs to get behind the cause and say "no more" to domestic violence.

He said the campaign was about letting the community take control and responsibility.

"Building their own campaign about: 'What do we stand for in this community? Do we want to leave in peace and harmony or are we happy to have chaos that destroys and makes families dysfunctional?' They choose the former."

More people understand that 'violence is not love'

NT Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the importance of the campaign could not be overstated in the Territory.

In the last five years there has been a 38 per cent increase in domestic violence, and a 48 per cent increase in domestic violence orders issued by police officers, he said.

There have been 75,000 incidents of family violence in the NT in the past three years.

But Commissioner Kershaw said it was a national issue and that every jurisdiction was experiencing an increase.

"Part of that is probably confidence in the system: more victims are coming forward now. More people are understanding, especially in our Indigenous communities, that violence is not love."
There is a requirement for mandatory reporting of domestic violence in the NT, and Commissioner Kershaw said preventative measures like this campaign, and working with the community, were the key to addressing the problem.

A grassroots Indigenous movement

The No More campaign began in 2006 and has gained momentum in recent years, driven by Indigenous leader Mr King with the support of elders from communities across the Territory.

An important part of the campaign is engaging with community groups, especially sporting clubs which are often the centre of activity in communities.

 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the No More anti-domestic violence campaign in Canberra 

In recent years national clubs like the NRL's Parramatta Eels have got on board and developed a domestic violence action plan.

Commissioner Kershaw said the campaign had seen great success in some communities like Nhulunbuy, in the Territory's northeast, where domestic violence had dropped by over a quarter in the past year.

"We do need to celebrate these successes, but it's a long way to go — this is generational change," he said. 

Action 'more important than symbolism'

Rirratjingu dancers from the Territory's northeast performed a Djan'kawu Ceremony outside Parliament House in Canberra, and Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation (RAC) Chairman Bakamumu Marika praised the event but said more needed to be done.

"Symbolism is important, now we need action — that's more important," he said.

"What we would like to see is a requirement for domestic violence action plans in government tender documents — if you don't have a good plan, you don't get a government contract."