Address at the Launch of Parliamentarians Against Family Violence
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- Parliamentary colleagues;
- Vice Admiral Ray Griggs;
- Ladies and gentlemen.
Can I begin by congratulating all those involved in bringing together this group, the Parliamentarians Against Family Violence and particularly to Ken Wyatt, Andrew Broad and Tim Watts.
The stark facts bear repeating.
One in three women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15, and one in five has experienced sexual violence.
Such statistics never fail to shock.
Behind each is a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend.
How can we, who consider ourselves a civilised society, sit idly by while this happens in our neighbourhoods, our homes, our communities?
We simply cannot.
And we absolutely must not. There is no excuse for such behaviour; not anywhere, ever.
Sexual assault and domestic and family violence against women and children are the most cowardly of acts.
But the terrible truth is that no section of society is exempt. We need to be honest and fearless about this.
That is why the bipartisan Second Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children is so important.
It is why the Australian Government, in partnership with all the states and territories, regardless of the political hue of the government that happens to be in power at the present time, has been steadfast in our commitment to continue to deliver and resource the National Plan.
It is why the Commonwealth along with all the states and territories continues to address violence against women and their children under these arrangements.
This Second Action Plan is a very strong, united message that violence and sexual assault against women are not acceptable anywhere.
One of the strengths of the Second Action Plan is the call to civil society to play its part.
Strong community engagement is critical, so that civil society drives change, in both attitudes and behaviour.
We are also investing in initiatives such as the Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children (Our Watch) to support civil society to transform community attitudes towards violence.
This is change that is simply not possible if we do not focus on early intervention and prevention.
To stop violence from happening in the first place, we need to work with young people through initiatives like The Line social marketing campaign to build respectful relationships.
Getting service systems to share information, to be consistent in their risk assessments and in their perpetrator interventions is of great importance.
And of course, we need to continue to learn more about domestic and family violence and sexual assault.
Through data, through research and through local initiatives and successes, we need to discover and share ‘what works.’
This includes what works for those women in Australia who have diverse experiences of violence and can be more vulnerable – Indigenous women, culturally and linguistically diverse women and women with disability.
We need to better understand these diverse experiences and work with communities to provide support and education. We need to respond to harmful cultural practices affecting women and their children.
Only when we know ‘what works’ can we support communities to prevent violence, intervene at the right times, and provide the support that women need to heal and rebuild their lives.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, which I was pleased to launch earlier this year, has an important role to play here.
Whilst I’ve spoken at some length about what the government is doing, can I just take a moment to acknowledge the bipartisanship both sides have shown on this important issue.
This group, founded by Ken Wyatt, Andrew Broad and Tim Watts, will be an enduring testament to our joint endeavor and a demonstration that all sides of politics will always work together on this important issue.
Ladies and gentlemen, everyone has a responsibility to confront this evil wherever they see it.
Because everyone in this country, every man, woman and child, has the right to live free of violence.