Ray Martin tells of personal impacts of violence in his family

SPEAKING OUT: Ray Martin shares his harrowing childhood experiences of family violence in an upcoming TV program.
SPEAKING OUT: Ray Martin shares his harrowing childhood experiences of family violence in an upcoming TV program.

News celebrity Ray Martin says there is “never an excuse” for family violence.

The most recognised interviewer in Australia became the interviewee as he shared his harrowing childhood story, shadowed by the abuse his family escaped.

A five-time Gold Logie winner, Mr Martin joined the 2015 Australian of the year, Ms Rosie Batty as she recently kick-started a community conversation about the family violence “epidemic” in Wagga Wagga. 

Mr Martin said his visit would form part of an upcoming television series, exposing Australia’s Hidden Shame and highlighting the “heavy issue” that impacted his life as a child. 

Mr Martin said his “amazing” mother was brave enough to escape his father’s abuse when he was 11 years old. 

“She was increasingly being bashed when the old man was drunk,” Mr Martin said. 

“He’d threatened to kill her.”

Mr Martin said he saw first-hand how abuse could start verbal and emotional, later turning violent. 

Mr Martin applauded women like Ms Batty, courageous enough to “open their hearts” and share their stories. 

He said the statistics were simple: “Eight-in-10 victims of domestic violence are women” and “nine-in-10 culprits are men”. 

Mr Martin said the issue was complex and slow to change but there was finally “a light at the end of the tunnel” where victims could find salvation.  

As with smoking and drink driving, Mr Martin said the idea that domestic violence was a “soft crime” and “taboo” was a cultural attitude that could be shifted. 

“You have to change attitudes,” he said. 

“Men stopping the violence and women stopping accepting it.”

Mr Martin said across 50 years of journalism, he had seen and heard the affects of an issue, traditionally kept behind closed doors. 

He said over time a zero-tolerance for domestic violence was becoming more widely adopted but there was still a long way to go, 

Mr Martin said projects like the TV series were an important step in the change process, as they encouraged communities like Wagga to talk, think and adapt.

The series will start screening on Sunday May 28 at 8.30pm on Prime7.

Domestic violence continues to plague the Orana region, according to figures from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) annual report for 2016, which was released in April.

Orana was still home to seven of NSW’s worst 20 LGAs for the crime: Walgett (4.9 times the state average), Coonamble (2.9), Wellington (2.7), Bogan (2.3), Cobar (2.1), Gilgandra (1.9) and Dubbo (1.9).

But, there were some significant falls in numbers of offences.

Walgett remained the worst local government area (LGA) in NSW for the crime although it experienced a 25.7 per cent fall in recorded incidents,

Incident rates fell 35.2 per cent in Narromine, 32.6 per cent in Bourke, 11.6 per cent in Dubbo and 9.4 per cent in Coonamble