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By Jasmine Ruffilli BA.LLB

The Melbourne Cup is anything but a celebration for horses or for women, partners and children in vulnerable homes.

There is a significant rise in domestic violence on Melbourne Cup day, the first Tuesday in November each year, with a 17% increase being recorded in 2018 and indeed during the Spring Racing Carnival season. (see .1)

A common scenario goes something like this: Gambling holds out the hope of winning $$$, often in circumstances when it is needed, sometimes just to break even or to recoup previous gambling losses. If the money is gone after a day at the races or a Cup event, then that can have a big impact on the family, not only because of the loss of savings and/or increase in debt but also because of resulting behaviours and moods which put women and children at risk when the perpetrator comes home.

The perpetrator may not blame themselves for losing on the races, they may lash out on their partner, the children, their family life and it's perceived demand on the lost money and demand and drain money and resources such as inheritance of the family and partner.

Research shows emergency department admissions, police recorded assaults and family incidents are elevated on Cup day with a spike in demand for outreach, emergency accommodation and crisis help, as the impact of race day celebrations hits home. (see . 2)

The glamour of the Spring Carnival hides a dark side of violence, gambling, addiction and substance abuse. There has been a rise in increased accessibility to multiple betting platforms, via the internet, telephone and face-to-face formats, making it easier to gamble and lose money quicker and irresistible to the gambling addict. The Cup is among a number of dates on the nation’s social calendar which put vulnerable women, partners and children at a heightened risk of abuse. Christmas and New Year also take a heavy toll on families in which perpetrators exercise power and control over their partner and children.

  1. & 2. - Centacare Family Catholic Services

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