Media Release by The Hon Kate Ellis MP

International praise for Australia’s National Plan to reduce violence against women and their children

Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis has welcomed international praise for Australia’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, which was endorsed by Australian governments last week.

Ms Ellis, who is in New York attending the UN Convention on the Status of Women, spoke at the international launch of the National Plan in New York yesterday about the impact of violence in Australia and the Pacific region.

“The National Plan is underpinned by the same belief that brings us together for these 2 weeks at the Commission on the Status of Women – involving all governments, civil society and the wider community is the only way to reduce violence in the short and longer terms,” Ms Ellis said.

“We recognise that no government or group can tackle this problem alone. While living free from violence is everyone’s right – reducing violence is everyone’s responsibility both nationally and globally.”

Janette Amer, a Human Rights Advisor in UN Women has praised the National Plan as an important step towards addressing the causes of violence against women, as well as providing support for victims.

“We know that violence against women will not ultimately end without addressing its root causes – discrimination against women – and prevention efforts are critical,” Ms Amer said.

“The Australian plan’s provisions on developing respectful relationships and ensuring communities are safe and free from violence are good practices which address the underlying causes and promote gender equality and women’s enjoyment of their human rights.”

Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said that the National Plan is a landmark moment in Australia.

“The National Plan is incredibly important for the very large and often hidden group of women in Australia that, every day, live their lives in fear within an intimate or family relationship,” Ms Broderick said.

“My hope is that with this National Plan and a renewed commitment by all, a woman’s right to live free from violence will become a reality to all.”

Globally, around 30 per cent of women and girls experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime, with much higher incidences in conflict zones.

The rate of violence against women in some Pacific countries are much higher, with two out of three women having been subjected to physical or sexual violence.

Kiribati Minister for Internal and Social Affairs, Mr Kouraiti Beniato congratulated the Australian Government on the National Plan and applauded Australia’s commitment to addressing violence against women throughout the Pacific region.

“My thanks goes to Australia for their assistance in the developing of our National Policy for Ending Sexual and Gender Based Violence, which we are on the verge of launching during International Women’s day or at the end of the month.”

Ms Ellis said that the Australian Government is deeply committed to reducing violence against women and children at home and also to taking the lead on these issues internationally.

“In Fiji, PNG, Vanuatu and East Timor and across the Pacific, Australia is working to improve women’s access to justice and support services, and to prevent violence against women,” Ms Ellis said.

Australia has committed $13.6 million in 2009-10 through various bilateral aid programs to activities seeking to reduce violence against women, particularly in Melanesia and East Timor. This is more than double the level of funding that was provided in 2007-08.

Australia is also working with political leaders and international organisations to end violence against women. In November 2010, Australia made a joint statement of commitment with the United States to work together to address violence against women globally.

The National Plan was launched domestically in Sydney last week and is a single unified strategy that brings together government efforts to reduce violence against women.

It is the first plan of its kind to focus so strongly on prevention, including building respectful relationships amongst young people and working to increase gender equality to stop violence from occurring in the first place.

The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022 is available online at FaHCSIA website