House debates

Monday, 27 November 2023

Private Members' Business

Elimination of Violence against Women

7:15 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

On Saturday, community members from across my electorate of Corangamite reflected on one of the most insidious challenges facing our nation today: violence against women. It was International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the first day of the 16 days of activism to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world. The theme of this year's campaign is 'UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls'. The campaign calls for global action to increase awareness, promote advocacy and create opportunities for discussion on challenges and solutions.

Our government recognises that violence against women remains one of the most entrenched human rights violations in the world. Globally, an estimated 736 million women have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate-partner or non-partner violence, or both, at least once in their life. We know that, here in Australia, too many women and children experience gender based violence every day. The statistics are never easy to hear. One in three women have experienced intimate partner violence since the age of 15. This month alone, more than 40 women have been killed by acts of violence.

We can no longer ignore the brutal reality of domestic violence. That's why I stand today in support of this motion, moved by the member for Newcastle, and I thank the member for moving it. Violence against women and children is horrific, tragic and insidious, and we need to act with urgency. That's why the Albanese government has legislated a suite of groundbreaking reforms and made significant investments to address this issue. It's why we're committed to ending violence against women and children—violence that is often hidden in plain sight.

One of the first reforms introduced by our government was 10 days of paid family violence leave for all employees, including casuals, because no one should be left to choose between their safety and their financial security. We've also taken immediate and practical steps to support victims of family and domestic violence, including a record $2.3 billion investment. We've fixed the escaping violence payment, reducing the time it takes victims-survivors to access support by 22 days. The difference this will make for some victims-survivors will be immeasurable. We have also extended funding for states and territories to deliver frontline services. We're delivering new frontline and community-sector workers to support victims-survivors of family violence, with funding to support the first group of workers now flowing to states and territories, and we have established a set of actions under the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children.

These are significant reforms and investments, but our government acknowledges that we still have a long way to go. Statistics from Victoria Police show that, just last year, there were approximately 4,800 cases of domestic violence in local government areas across my electorate alone. It's shocking and it's unacceptable. These women come from all walks of life—different ages, cultures, professions and backgrounds—but they share a heartbreaking story: their lives and their children's lives have been tragically cut short or brutally upended at the hands of a current or former partner. These women are aunties, sisters, daughters, friends and colleagues. They are women we have loved and women we have lost too soon. This must change, and the perception of family violence must change. We need to shatter the perception that family violence happens elsewhere, not in our own backyards.

In closing, and to mark this significant week for women across our nation, I'd like to share the words of the victims-survivors contained in the opening statement of our government's national plan:

Abuse and violence is a problem for victims, but it is not the victims' problem. Genuine change begins with a willingness to listen. We must stop protecting perpetrators with our silence, and through inaction. We must be willing to sit in discomfort. It is time to be brave.

And it is time to act.


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