Speech by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

White Ribbon Day Breakfast

Location: Melbourne Museum, Melbourne


  • The Treasurer, Peter Costello
  • My state and federal ministerial and parliamentary colleagues
  • Other distinguished guests
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you Ms Flanagan (Kerry) for your introduction.

Welcome everyone to this year’s breakfast to mark the 2005 United Nations’ Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Also known as White Ribbon Day, we are here to speak out against violence, and to encourage all Australian men and boys to wear white ribbons to symbolise their personal pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.

Today, you will be joined by millions of men and boys across Australia and throughout the world in wearing white ribbons to show families, friends, neighbours and work colleagues that one incident of violence against women is one too many.

It is wonderful to see so many high-profile men who are committed to spreading the message that violence against women in today’s Australia is simply unacceptable.

Your presence sends a strong signal that violence is not a private issue, but a matter of grave concern for everyone, including men.

The problem transcends political, economic and social boundaries.

It is a widespread and ongoing problem. It attacks the very core of family life.

The statistics confirm what most of us know – that is, it is women who are much more likely to be the victims of violence in the home.

The figures also show that one in four women suffers from relationship violence during her life.

The economic costs are huge – estimated at over $8 billion a year.

The social costs are also enormous, because they are borne not only by the victims of violence, but by others who suffer indirectly – by children, by family and friends, and by entire communities.

The Australian Government has massively stepped up its efforts to try and prevent domestic and family violence happening in the first place.

In this year’s Budget alone we announced $75.7 million for a new Women’s Safety Agenda, which focuses on four broad themes of prevention, health, justice and services.

Among other initiatives, the Agenda includes a re-run of the successful, national Violence Against Women. Australia Says No campaign, training for nurses in rural and regional areas on how best to respond to domestic violence, and more resources for Mensline Australia to help men deal with family and domestic violence issues.

The Government also provides extensive and ongoing funding for crisis and accommodation services, and for relationship counselling. This includes specialised programs to tackle the problem of violence in many Indigenous and migrant communities.

In the past 20 years, I am pleased to say we have seen domestic violence exposed as a serious crime.

And as the Minster directly responsible for the Australian Government’s policy responses to violence against women, I sense a real turning point in people’s attitudes and a much stronger willingness to speak out about the problem.

The turn out at this morning’s event reflects this trend. We have support from politicians, community leaders, footballers, athletes, business executives, the police, actors, people working in support services and welfare agencies, public servants, Indigenous people, and people from other countries who have made Australia their home.

I want to also particularly acknowledge Angela Barker who is here with us. Angela was severely abused by her boyfriend when she was 16.
She is an incredibly courageous young woman who tells people from first-hand knowledge about how important it is to stop violence against women. A CD and education kit telling Angela’s story has been circulated to every Australian high school as part of the Women’s Safety Agenda.

I like to believe that there is hope for the future, and that by working together we can, jointly, make a real difference.

Thank you, all of you, for your support and public commitment to ending violence against women.