Ballarat deaths: Families of three women killed in Victorian city unite in grief at rally to decry violence

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Remy Varga
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Members of the Ballarat community participate in a rally against men's violence following the alleged murder of three women in the regional Victorian city.
Members of the Ballarat community participate in a rally against men's violence following the alleged murder of three women in the regional Victorian city. Credit: Con Chronis/AAPIMAGE

The families of three women killed in the Victorian city of Ballarat in about two months have united at a rally decrying violence against women.

Glenn and Deborah McGuire, the parents of Hannah McGuire who was allegedly murdered by her ex-boyfriend last Friday, handed out black t-shirts bearing their 23-year-old daughter’s face emblazoned with the caption “She Matters”.

Tracy Young, the mother of Rebecca Young who was killed by her partner on February 12, demanded the crowd of thousands scream her daughter’s name.

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And Mick Murphy, the husband of Samantha Murphy who disappeared after going for a run on February 4, said he still searched for his missing wife every day and remained hopeful Victoria Police would find her body.

Photos of recent victims are seen on display where members of the Ballarat community participate in a rally against men's violence.
Photos of recent victims are seen on display where members of the Ballarat community participate in a rally against men's violence. Credit: Con Chronis/AAPIMAGE
Members of the Ballarat community participate in a rally against men's violence following the alleged murder of three women in the regional Victorian city within the past three months.
Members of the Ballarat community participate in a rally against men's violence following the alleged murder of three women in the regional Victorian city within the past three months. Credit: Con Chronis/AAPIMAGE

Amongst the crowd was feminist writer Clementine Ford, Federal Member for Ballarat Catherine King, Victorian Family Violence Prevention Minister Vicki Ward and Our Watch chief executive officer Patty Kinnersly.

Supporters, dressed in puffer jackets and woollen knits, began gathering at the white federation building of Ballarat Train Station at around 5pm on Friday, with some of the crowd spilling onto the road.

Members of the Ballarat community participate in a rally against men's violence following the alleged murder of three women in the regional Victorian city within the past three months, at Ballarat Train Station in Ballarat, Friday, April 12, 2024.
Members of the Ballarat community participate in a rally against men's violence following the alleged murder of three women in the regional Victorian city within the past three months, at Ballarat Train Station in Ballarat, Friday, April 12, 2024. Credit: Con Chronis/AAPIMAGE
Members of the Ballarat community participated in a rally against men's violence following the alleged murder of three women in the regional Victorian city.
Members of the Ballarat community participated in a rally against men's violence following the alleged murder of three women in the regional Victorian city. Credit: Con Chronis/AAPIMAGE

The crowd began marching as the street lamps flickered on, the scent of lit candles floating in the dusk air.

About 2,000 people marched between the old federation buildings along Lidiard St South in central Ballarat, chanting for the end of violence against women amid the banging of drums before ending at the Camp St campus of Federation University.

Members of the Ballarat community participate in a rally against men's violence at Ballarat Train Station.
Members of the Ballarat community participate in a rally against men's violence at Ballarat Train Station. Credit: Con Chronis/AAPIMAGE

The rally was called after the death of McGuire last Friday, for which her ex-boyfriend Lachlan Young has been charged with murder.

A statement read on behalf of McGuire’s friends described her as an amazing woman and an amazing friend.

“I will miss you every single day,” Vigil organiser Sissy Austin read to the crowd.

“My heartbreaks, heaven is gaining an angel. Goodbye for now. I love you.”

Event organiser Sissy Austin speaks to the members of the Ballarat community during a rally against men's violence.
Event organiser Sissy Austin speaks to the members of the Ballarat community during a rally against men's violence. Credit: Con Chronis/AAPIMAGE
Family of Rebecca Young speaks to the members of the Ballarat community during a rally against men's violence.
Family of Rebecca Young speaks to the members of the Ballarat community during a rally against men's violence. Credit: Con Chronis/AAPIMAGE

The 23-year-old was the third woman to die in a period of about two months in Ballarat, a city about 120km northwest of Melbourne with a population of about 115,000.

Rebecca Young died on February 12 after being strangled by her partner Ian Butler, who had links to bikie gangs, in Sebastopol in a suspected murder-suicide.

Jessica Young said her sister Rebecca was a loving and devoted mother to six children and a grandmother to one.

“It feels bittersweet standing up here tonight,” she said.

“Bitter in the way that it’s too late to save my sister and many others. And sweet in the hope that this rally raises awareness and helps to save other people’s lives.”

Husband of Samantha Murphy, Mick Murphy speaks during a rally against men's violence.
Husband of Samantha Murphy, Mick Murphy speaks during a rally against men's violence. Credit: Con Chronis/AAPIMAGE

Less than two weeks earlier on February 4, Samantha Murphy vanished after going for a run in bushland near her home on Eureka Street in East Ballarat.

Mrs Murphy’s husband Mick thanked the community and Victoria Police for their support and said his home city of Ballarat was normally a place where people looked after each other.

“I hope we can all keep moving and take the positives out of life for the good of everyone,” he said, before

Victoria Police finished their third large-scale search for Mrs Murphy on Friday. It is understood no further searches are planned as of yet.

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