JOURNALIST: We’ve all seen the ad on television, part of a national campaign aimed at breaking the cycle of violence against women.
I think it’s a very effective ad. Paul Fletcher is the Federal Families and Social Services Minister. Minister, good morning to you.
PAUL FLETCHER: Good morning, good to be with you.
JOURNALIST: I’ve got a mate who’s a cop in the bush and earlier this year I said to him – g’day mate, how are things? And he said – mate, domestic violence, it is out of control.
PAUL FLETCHER: Look, the statistics are absolutely shocking. Nearly eight women a day are hospitalised as a result of an assault from a current or former partner. And that’s why this $30 million Stop it at the Start campaign that’s been running in phase two since October of this year is so important because what it does is it’s based on the research which shows a linkage between a lack of respect for women and violence against women.
And the idea is to try and change attitudes, particularly amongst children, and it’s targeted at adults, parents, teachers, sports coaches, others, because the things that we say can influence children who are listening to us. And you talked about the ads which have been running with some different scenarios in them and they’re designed to highlight to us that we can all say things that may inadvertently communicate a lack of respect for women.
We’re trying to change that with this $30 million campaign. These kinds of social changes take some time, but it’s so important that we’re doing everything we can to increase safety for women.
JOURNALIST: When you say that it’s designed to change attitudes, do certain people have an attitude that it’s alright to physically abuse women?
PAUL FLETCHER: Well, for example, the research shows that one in four young people don’t think it’s serious when a young bloke insults or verbally harasses a girl in the street. And so the contention of the campaign is particularly to remind adults that we can say things which may inadvertently show a lack of respect for women and in turn, that can help to create that environment, it can help to create those attitudes.
What we want to do is see if we can change that so that we’re all modelling and articulating respect for women, and particularly therefore helping our children and young people to in turn develop those attitudes of respect for women. And look, the initial research that’s been done on the campaign – 72 per cent of the people who saw the campaign understood and accepted their role in showing young people how to act respectfully.
Around 60 per cent felt the campaign led them to a different perspective on violence against women. So that suggests it is having some impact. This is so important that we do everything we can to improve safety in our communities.
JOURNALIST: Of course it is. Minister, is domestic violence on the increase or is the reporting of domestic violence on the increase?
PAUL FLETCHER: Look, it’s a very good question.
There’s no doubt that the statistics in terms of women’s safety and domestic violence are not showing any particular improvement.
Some of that certainly is thought to be that there is now more awareness of domestic violence and more reporting of it, and that is a good thing. But obviously, what we need to do is work very hard to improve women’s safety, reduce domestic violence.
Our Liberal National Government has invested more than $350 million in that over recent years. For example, we’ve recently provided an extra $10.9 million in funding for 1800RESPECT, which is the national line for people to call if they’ve got concerns about domestic violence – 1800 737 732.
We’ve recently allocated $14.9 million for no interest loans through Good Shepherd Microfinance for women who may be leaving a household to set up to get away from domestic violence, but it costs money to get the bond for the rent, or buy a new fridge. And so these no interest loans are available to help women in that situation. My colleague, the Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer announced that recently.
JOURNALIST: Good on you Minister. Nice to chat with you.
PAUL FLETCHER: Good to be with you.
JOURNALIST: Paul Fletcher, Federal Families and Social Services Minister.