Lindy Lucena was the first woman this year to be murdered in an act of domestic violence. She was beaten to death in a street in Ballina. Her partner, Robert Karl Huber, is charged with her murder, and breaching a DVO. I heard this on the news. It chilled me to the bone.
On 22 November last year I joined a march with members of Rotary, Ballina Mayor Sharon Cadwallader and Ballina Coast High School students in solidarity to say ‘No to Domestic Violence’. We shared stories of lived experience. We talked of the need for change, to stop DV. Rotary Club of Ballina on the Richmond have made this one of their core missions. Then we find the first woman murdered in a DV incident in 2023 was on our watch: Lindy Lucena.
I look at her lovely face. She’s got one of those smiles that put you at ease. Her friends say ‘she had a heart of gold.’ Clearly she did. Like many women, this tender-hearted woman loved a damaged man. Loved the unloveable. Her compassion came with a price: her life.
Who would have thought that her life would end here? When the DVO order was taken out I am sure she felt protected – like it would make a difference. But here she is, under a tarp in a Ballina laneway. 64-year-old Lindy was living in a motorhome because she was flood-affected. Lindy is now dead, her partner charged with her murder. Our system does not provide adequate support to stop women being killed by their partners.
What is the point of charging someone with ‘breaching a DVO’? That, next to a murder charge, made me feel sick. The murder was the breach. The DVO did not protect Lindy from the trauma to the head that killed her. She was beaten and left to die. The man charged with her murder was on charges at the time for assault. He had been charged with several violent offences, including ‘common assault’ and ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm.’ He was on bail – granted just days before being charged with murder. Who decided he was safe to be in the community? How can the police protect women if the courts won’t take violence against women seriously? Why do women (like Lindy) keep ending up dead?
I didn’t know Lindy. I looked at her Facebook page. There’s a picture of her, and the man accused of her murder, in happier times. He isn’t a monster; he is the man she loves. Her status says ‘in a relationship.’ There is something so poignant about this being the point of risk. We are told not to walk dark streets, not to stay out late, not to get in the car with strangers. But statistics tell us that these aren’t the most dangerous places for us. More realistic safety advice for women is ‘don’t go home’ and ‘don’t fall in love’. How can we live like this? How can we live knowing there is no safety; not at home, not in the courts, not anywhere.
We need to stop the murders of women like Lindy Lucena. We can start by demanding our courts give women safety by taking violence against them seriously. If bail hadn’t been granted, women like Lindy would still be here. We need to start working with offenders. We need to do work in schools, with our kids, men, and those who perpetrate violence against intimate partners. They need early intervention. When they are supported by the system, their partner’s safety will be supported too. We need to have these conversations in the open. We need to work together – because this affects all of us.
Lindy Lucena died on our watch, in our community. It is up to us to push for change. To honour the life of a woman who should not have died this way.
This Sunday there will be a candlelight vigil for Lindy at Fawcett Park in Ballina at 7pm; because Lindy Lucena matters. BYO candle and blanket. This will be a quiet and reverent gathering. Everyone welcome.
We’re sorry Lindy. We should have had your back.