The rallying cry of “enough is enough” could be heard shouted from the streets of Wangaratta on Sunday by hundreds of emotional marchers.
In a tragic six months, 11-year-old Zoe Buttigieg and 49-year-old Karen Chetcuti were violently killed in separate events and men arrested for their murders.
The people of Wangaratta were determined to stop it happening again.
March organisers Tania Maxwell and Carol Roadknight have called for reforms to the justice system including harsher jail sentences, parole reforms with mandatory supervision and a public sex offender register.
“You are now the voice for people in the community who no longer have a voice,” Ms Maxwell said.
“A system meant to protect you, me, your families, your wife, your children is not working for us.”
She had been left numb by the feeling of “not again” and let down by the people elected to protect the community.
“This just shouldn’t happen – how many more deaths must it take?” Ms Maxwell said.
“Politicians, we will continue this fight.
“You will be so sick of hearing ‘enough is enough’.”
Marchers also signed a petition for tougher sentencing and parole, which will be presented to state politicians.
The group made its way from the Wangaratta Council offices along Ford, Murphy and Faithfull streets, finishing at the public square at the Ovens Riverside Precinct.
An emotional Ms Roadknight, who was a friend of Ms Chetcuti’s, said it was sad the rally had to happen at all.
“The destruction of the people, the family and friends, that this leaves behind,” she said.
Indi Liberal candidate Sophie Mirabella addressed the crowd and revealed she had a family member who was a victim of sexual assault, but the alleged attacker’s trial was unsuccessful.
She said the justice system failed victims who had been humiliated in cross-examination at court without getting a result.
“You would think that when these perpetrators do get convicted in court, we could actually get some protection, you think they’d stay in prison long enough, you think when they get out, we could actually know where the hell they live,” Mrs Mirabella said.
“There’s all this talk about the rights of a sex offender and their right to privacy, well bugger that bloody right.