Speech by Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

Closing Remarks, National Summit on Women’s Safety

Firstly, can I thank absolutely everyone who has participated in the National Summit on Women’s Safety. Thank you from zooming in from your homes, from your workplaces, from your kitchen benches to be a part of this Summit.

Your voices – the voices of frontline workers, experts and especially victim survivors – you and your lived experiences are foundational to informing the development of the next National Plan.

I would like to also thank all presenters, panellists and keynote speakers for your time and your contributions over the last two days.

Thank you to Patty Kinnersley, Sandra Creamer and Donnella Mills – as lead delegates – who have presented the Summit Delegate Statement to me, Minister Payne and Members of the Women’s Safety Taskforce from each state and territory.

This statement, which we’ve just heard, was presented on behalf of delegates from across the country who have brought together the findings and key outcomes of the Summit.

Working together on our shared goal to end violence against women and their children is absolutely crucial for us all.

It’s a common theme I am hearing from each and every panel discussion, with delegates and panellists seeing the need for all levels of governments, private business, and the sector to work together.

We came together to share our knowledge, our experiences and our aspirations for the next National Plan to end violence against women and children.

We have had a challenging and constructive two days at the Summit, and two days prior with the roundtables.

The Summit Statement is a substantial input into the next Plan. It must be. I am pleased to receive the statement today which is the summary of our discussions and will anchor development of the next National Plan, with State and Territory governments.

None of us underestimate the challenges ahead; but all of us agree they must be addressed.

The ongoing issues that give rise to violence against women and their children – gender inequity and stereotypes, power imbalance – all need addressing in the new Plan.

So too, do a range of emerging issues that have been discussed over these past two days:

  • Firstly, that the focus on prevention must continue to be a priority and be a foundational element of the next National Plan.
  • That there must be a dedicated, focussed action plan for Indigenous Australians to allow community leaders to lead the delivery of these outcomes – including a dedicated indigenous action plan.
  • That early interventions for perpetrators must be a focus, so we can support men not to use violence, and interact with them early in the cycle.
  • That including the experiences of victims and survivors are central to sexual violence justice and healing responses.
  • The rise in technology facilitated abuse and financial abuse, including apps and devices to track victims and using children to inflict abuse against a parent .
  • The ongoing focus and listening to survivors voices, and particularly supporting victim survivors support to recover and heal.
  • That housing is vital to providing women and their children with safety and security, and housing responses must be appropriate for the diversity of groups, including Indigenous Australians and older women.

Participants have examined criminal justice responses to domestic, family and sexual violence, including policing, court and legal responses.

There have been sessions on safety in the workplace, financial abuse and women’s economic security and how best to address violence against diverse communities, such as women and children with disability and gender diverse cohorts.

Some discussions were confronting.

We must be willing to listen honestly, which is why we held the Summit and that’s why we must continue to do more.

The next National Plan will have a specific focus on the effects of family and domestic violence on children and the impact of this trauma on them, evidenced through our ‘protecting Australia’s children’ roundtable held last week.

Delegates, your statement will help us shape the overarching vision, focus areas and outcomes of the next National Plan.

The Summit Statement represents what you – as participants – believe must be prioritised in the Next National Plan.

I commit to you that these themes will underpin the next National Plan.

We all want the same outcome – to end, not just reduce, but actually end violence against women and their children.

We must work together if we are to achieve this goal.

As you all know, changing long held and deeply ingrained societal attitudes is not easy. It takes time.

But it must happen.

Women, and their children, have the basic right to be safe, in their homes, in their workplaces, as young girls at school, in the community and, of course, online.

Again, thank you all for taking part in this Summit. Your input is invaluable.