House debates

Monday, 27 November 2023

Private Members' Business

Elimination of Violence against Women

7:20 pm

Photo of Jenny WareJenny Ware (Hughes, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the motion brought by the member for Newcastle. Today, like many others in this place and in the other, I'm wearing orange in support of the 16 days of activism against gender based violence. As part of the coalition, I welcome the member for Newcastle's motion to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In my home city of Sydney in New South Wales, only a couple of weeks ago a young woman aged only 21, Lilie James, was violently murdered, allegedly at the hands of a former male partner. This murder committed at a school shocked Sydney and shocked Australia. However, Lilie was one of 55 women this year who have been murdered at the hands, allegedly in Lilie's case, of a male partner. Improving the safety of women and children must be above politics, and we on our side will continue to work with the government towards the elimination of violence against women.

Across this nation every day, family and domestic violence harms Australian women and children. Many of these incidents go unreported. Unfortunately, although we are in 2023, we are not seeing an improvement in the reduction of reported incidents or deaths from this violence. It is simply not good enough, and we must do better. In fact, some of the statistics are showing that the number of domestic homicides is getting worse. It is a national crisis and a national disgrace. I do applaud the Albanese Labor government for pledging over a year ago to end gender based violence in a generation. This is laudable; it is a worthy commitment. The National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children and the recently released First Action Plan must translate the words and the allocated funding into tangible and effective action that saves lives. Part of these actions must focus on improving community education around this scourge. It needs to dismantle the common view that family violence only occurs with aggressive behaviours and that family violence only occurs in certain demographics. This is not the case.

In reality, family violence presents in many forms, including emotional, financial, spiritual, cultural and coercive control. Coercive control takes the form of threats, intimidation, humiliation and other abuse that erodes a person's autonomy and ability to flourish. In that regard, I particularly acknowledge the work of the former New South Wales coalition government led by the Hon. Mark Speakman and the Hon. Natalie Ward. Twelve months ago, the New South Wales government passed legislation making coercive control a standalone criminal offence in New South Wales. This was the first law of its kind in Australia, if not in the world. Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse that involves patterns of behaviour that have the cumulative effect of denying victims-survivors their autonomy and their independence. We need the whole community to understand the forms that this violence can take and to be alert to its indicators.

We must also have a more pointed commitment to early intervention programs and prevention strategies. These strategies must particularly include a focus on education and support programs for Australian boys and men. As the mother of boys I feel that this education must begin at its earliest, in those formative preschool years, so that boys understand respect for women and that violence against women is never, ever acceptable.

Another area that could be improved is the rehabilitation of family violence offenders before they're released from custody. This, again, is something that must be addressed while we are in this place. To conclude, the tackling of family violence must be above politics in this place. It is above politics. I have been so heartened to see the number of us today who are wearing orange in support of this important day and to hear all the speeches from across the floor in support of the elimination of violence against women.


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