Senate debates

Thursday, 25 November 2021


International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

10:21 am

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The greatest and most direct impact of family violence is on our women, trans women and sistergirls. Violence against women, particularly First Nations women, is not inevitable. It can and must be prevented. We must work together to do this—all of us, not just across this parliament but every single one of us.

Violence against women is not a woman's problem; it is a social problem. That is why every single one of us has to play a part in the solutions. To be effective, solutions to ending violence against women, particularly our women—our matriarchs—must be both culturally safe and holistic, because the solutions must be careful and safe. They must be self-determined by our women, for our women. We need self-determined solutions at every stage, from prevention to early intervention, response, recovery and healing. Every single response must take a holistic approach that addresses not only the immediate problems we face but also the underlying socio-economic factors which we did not cause but which contribute to this violence.

There can be nothing about us without us. That is why, if any solution is to work, it must be culturally safe and self-determined. Mainstream approaches to ending violence do not engage with the issues surrounding cultural trauma caused by dispossession, land theft, the forced separation from our families and the attempts to destroy our cultures. These are all legacies of colonisation, and they must be reckoned with. First Nations women want a standalone national plan and a standalone national summit where we can inform that plan—self-determined and ensuring that we include community controlled family violence prevention legal services, health services and other Aboriginal community controlled health organisations.

Finally, all violence prevention responses must take a human rights approach, centred on our right to self-determination, and facilitate the necessary cultural healing needed to be successful. Cultural healing that is based on the strength and resilience of our peoples and cultures must be at the heart of any violence prevention measures.

The Australian Greens, through my colleague Senator Cox and I, acknowledge and hear the cries of our women and children. We hear the cries for systemic change, to prevent any more black women or black children being murdered. Today we are proposing a motion, which the minister spoke about. I might add that our conversations over the last 24 hours have been—it's incredible how we can get stuff done in this place when people take the time to listen. To have the support of the government for an inquiry on missing and murdered Aboriginal women and children in this country is historic, I believe, and I want to thank the government, particularly the minister, for listening and for acting on such an important issue that our women have been fighting for for so long.

Our women have the right to live their lives in safety, with full human dignity and free from all forms of violence, including family violence. I pay my respects and I honour our women and the struggles and the trauma that they face every day, and I particularly honour those who have lost their lives. After Senator Cox and I spoke to the minister last night, we talked about women in our families who had been murdered who've had no justice because they weren't important enough for investigations to happen around those murders.

The woman that was murdered in my family was carried by the perpetrator and dumped on the front lawn of her mother's house in Morwell, Gippsland, Victoria. Because there was substance abuse involved in that family, the police response was that they were drunks. No-one was held accountable, and that woman, my cousin, was left dead on the front lawn of her mother's house in Morwell.

I'm going to use a minute to sit in silence and reflect on all of those women and children who died at the hands of not only the system that didn't protect them but by the perpetrators who did the wrong thing and were not held accountable. I respect the chamber and ask the chamber to have a moment of silence.

Honourable senators observed a moment of silence—


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