International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

I’m pleased to be able to speak to this motion on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.


As those who have spoken before me have expressed, domestic and family violence is a national crisis and a national shame.


One in four women have experienced family violence and one in five women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.


Australian police deal with a domestic violence matter every two minutes - with an estimated 657 domestic violence matters - on average - every single day of the year.


These are extremely sad statistics.


But they are not just numbers.


These women are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, friends, neighbours and colleagues.


And they all had the right to be safe and live free from violence and fear.


As I was reading the news this morning and scrolling through social media, I came across a post from the CEO of Respect Victoria, Emily Maguire.


This is what Emily’s post said:


“Violence against women is preventable, and it’s a challenge that belongs to all of us… it’s critical that men are part of the journey and that they support each other to break down outdated stereotypes about gender, masculinity and what it means to be a man.”


I would like to do my part, to end men’s violence towards women and children – as a political leader and as man, this is why I’m taking up Emily’s call to action.


To date, our public conversation around violence, perhaps understandably, has focused on a crisis response.


And the onus has been on the victim-survivor to leave the violent relationship.


And in response to this public conversation, we often hear the words “not all men.”


I have never met a domestic violence frontline worker or victim survivor who has claimed that all men are bad and perpetrate violence.


This is not what they are advocating for.


But all men do have a responsibility to help change the culture that allows this gendered violence to occur.


As Tarang Chawla, an advocate whose sister was murdered at the hands of her partner said:


“If we have a room of 10 men, and one of them is a potential killer, and the other nine men are there silent, they might as well not be there.”


This is pretty telling isn’t it?


We must address gender inequality.


We must end a culture where women are mistreated and discriminated against based on their gender.


I feel this, and I’m committed to this, not just because I am a father of a daughter.


But because quite frankly it is the right thing to do.


Almost a decade ago, under a Labor government, the national prevention body OurWatch was created.


This is the proud legacy of some amazing Labor women including Julia Gilliard, Jenny Macklin, Julie Collins, Kate Ellis and Tanya Plibersek.


I recommend you visit OurWatch to find resources for how you can help change the culture and prevent men’s violence against women.


Because we all have a responsibility to educate ourselves, to call out poor behaviour, reflect on our own actions and listen to the women around us.


I would like to conclude by saying that if your or someone you know if experiencing violence, you can call 1800RESPECT.


For counselling, advice and support for men who have anger, relationship or parenting issues, call the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.

29 November 2022