Monday, 14 October 2019
Matters of Public Importance
Girls Takeover Parliament
Today is the day that girls take over parliament. Girls Takeover Parliament is a program organised by Jasiri Australia to raise the awareness of girls to what goes on this in place and encourage more girls into both political and leadership positions. This is my first year as a senator and it's the first year I've taken part in Girls Takeover Parliament. I was absolutely delighted to be paired with Phillipa—Pip—Gelland from Mudgee, and even more so because I have very close ties to Mudgee and its community. My grandparents lived there for many, many years and, indeed, it is where I first went to start my career as a cadet journalist. It's great to have that common background with Pip. Like many other kids from the country, Pip has now moved to the city to pursue her education, studying law and international relations here in Canberra at the ANU.
I asked Pip to prepare a speech on what matters to her. If she were in this place with a position of responsibility, what would she like to see addressed? She has rightly raised the serious problem of domestic violence. I will read Pip's speech before I add my own comments. Pip's speech read:
Australia has a serious problem of gender-based violence, especially when it comes to domestic violence. 1 woman is killed by an ex or current partner every week in our country. These cases are rarely reported to the police, and if they are, the rates of successful prosecution are incredibly low. This must change. We must be educating young people about these issues as part of the national education curriculum, and be creating change within our law enforcement procedures to make the authorities more accessible to women in need. By educating young people we are giving them the necessary tools to engage in respectful relationships from the beginning and will in the long-term reduce domestic violence rates. This is absolutely not a new idea, and was repeatedly brought up in the inquiry into respectful relationships during the creation of the National Plan for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Their Children adopted in 2010. However, this plan was little more than an affirmation that violence against women is an issue for state and territory responses. The practice of pushing issues towards the states and territories can not suffice in this instance. This issue is not defined by state borders - it is nation-wide. In an effort to address this, the Liberal-Nationals government has invested $340 million to the fourth and final action plan under the National Plan. This has also included a focus on rural and regional women, acknowledging that women in these areas are more susceptible to domestic violence, but also have a much harder time accessing support.
Such a single federal response will negate any educational variations across state jurisdictions. The same approach should be given to reforms to the reporting processes to increase women's access to legal enforcement.
I am proud, as a Nationals senator in this government, that we have made that investment into the fourth action plan. I hope that, as a future leader, should Pip enter this place, or if she instead pursues a career in law or diplomacy, she continues to speak up on this important issue facing Australian women and girls, particularly those living in our shared home of rural Australia.