Hor­sham’s O’brien stands for se­nate

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAWSON

Si­mone O’brien, 43, of Hor­sham will take her pow­er­ful and res­onat­ing anti-do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence mes­sage to Can­berra if she wins a Se­nate seat in the ap­proach­ing fed­eral elec­tion.

Ms O’brien put up her hand to run along­side Der­ryn Hinch for Der­ryn Hinch’s Jus­tice Party and will run on the plat­form that there is a need for ac­tion – ‘not to­mor­row, next week or next year – but now!’

“There are an av­er­age of 52 women and chil­dren killed as a re­sult of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ev­ery year in Aus­tralia,” she said.

“Last year that fig­ure got up to 86 and we’ve had 15 al­ready this year.

“The fig­ures in­clude ev­ery­one from

ba­bies up to a 74-year-old lady. My aim is to get that down to sin­gle fig­ures and even then that would be too many.”

Ms O’brien, beaten to ‘within inches of her life’ with a base­ball bat by a for­mer part­ner in 2012, has risen from a gru­elling six and a half years of re­cov­ery to be­come a na­tional ad­vo­cate against do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

She con­firmed her Se­nate nom­i­na­tion late last week.

She said de­spite con­stantly trav­el­ling across Aus­tralia and speak­ing at var­i­ous events on the im­pact of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, she had pre­vi­ously never con­sid­ered a par­lia­men­tary role.

“I had never thought about it. I ac­tu­ally sent Sen­a­tor Hinch an email,” she said.

“I had con­tact with him for quite a few months and said in my email about what needed to hap­pen and how it needed to hap­pen now.”

“I was on my way to Mel­bourne when he rang me and I met up with his team on Fri­day while I was on my way to Bris­bane for treat­ment.

“I told them I was re­ally busy and that I didn’t want that to af­fect what I was do­ing but Sen­a­tor Hinch said, ‘don’t worry about it, it won’t’.”

Ms O’brien, orig­i­nally from Dim­boola and with a part­ner and three chil­dren, is di­rectly in­volved in six anti-do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence cam­paign or­gan­i­sa­tions across Aus­tralia.

“I ba­si­cally go there to pro­vide facts and lay it on the line about how 10 sec­onds of mad­ness can change a life for­ever – telling the story that hit­ting mummy isn’t okay,” she said.

“It’s not just about go­ing some­where and speak­ing, it’s also about ce­ment­ing in the minds of peo­ple that they should look out for each other.

“While I’m busy help­ing oth­ers, it’s also a heal­ing process for me. Six and a half years ago I be­came a pris­oner in own body for the rest of my life.

“Treat­ment is my ev­ery­day routine. I’m do­ing a lot of trav­el­ling and ad­vo­cacy work and that helps my self­be­lief and con­fi­dence.

“It is some­thing that just comes out of my heart.”

Iron­i­cally, the elec­tion is on May 18 in a month when Ms O’brien has in­ten­sive in­ter­state en­gage­ments.

“I have a busy sched­ule and it’s all about bal­anc­ing. I get to be a mum, which I love, and be­ing pos­i­tive,” she said.

“When one door closes another one opens and I’m hop­ing to turn ad­vo­cacy into mak­ing a po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ence.”

Ms O’brien, who suf­fered se­vere fa­cial in­juries, in­clud­ing the loss of sight from an eye, sense of smell and skull and jaw com­pli­ca­tions, will have her 52nd oper­a­tion in Au­gust, surgery she hopes will be her last.

“When I first started this jour­ney I never saw a light at the end of the tun­nel. I can now see that light,” she said.

“It’s not just my story, it’s ev­ery­one’s story and I’m pre­pared to speak from the heart.

“It’s about sav­ing women and chil­dren from do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.”

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