Mr Speaker, today I rise to acknowledge the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which took place on 25 November, and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence that follow it.
This is a time for individuals, organisations, and governments around the world to call for united action to eliminate violence against women and girls.
It’s also a time for us to reflect on the tragic costs of violence, and how we can collectively, as a society, galvanise our efforts to prevent it from occurring.
In doing so, I’d like to acknowledge the victim-survivors who may be listening or watching this today.
Violence against women remains one of the most widespread human rights abuses in society today.
Globally, an estimated 736 million women – that’s almost one in three women worldwide – have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in their lives.
In Australia as many as one in six women have been subject to physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.
These figures are even starker in First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
First Nations women are 33 times more likely to be hospitalised and six times more likely to die from domestic violence than non-Indigenous women in Australia.
We’re all deeply disturbed by the ongoing news that women are dying on a frequent basis at the hands of their current or former partner.
The tragic loss of life that we’ve seen of late is an undeniable tragedy and a national shame.
One life lost is one life too many.
Each woman’s life lost has devastating ripple effects across the community and is felt far and wide.
When a woman’s life is taken from her, children lose mothers, parents lose children, brothers lose sisters, and we lose our friends and workmates.
Family, domestic and sexual violence is not just a women’s issue - it’s an issue for everyone.
Today, I reaffirm the Albanese Government’s commitment to end violence against women and children in Australia.
A commitment I know is shared by everyone in this Parliament.
Over the past weekend, our government announced the launch of an online intimate partner homicide dashboard, based on validated data collated by the Australian Institute of Criminology, which will be released in mid-2024.
The dashboard will be supported by key data from all state and territory police services, provided on a real-time, or as soon as practicable basis.
This will be used to measure our national target to reduce female intimate partner homicide by 25 per cent each year, as outlined in the Outcomes Framework for the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022‒32.
The Albanese Labor Government has invested $2.3 billion across the past two Budgets to deliver ambitious reforms to address the drivers of family, domestic and sexual violence, and that ensure victim-survivors have the support they need.
Since coming into government, we’ve passed legislation to provide 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave, including for casuals.
We’re implementing all 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work report, and we’re delivering key legislative changes as a result.
Crucially, we passed our Housing Australia Future Fund, to support those escaping violence, or older women at risk of homelessness.
We’re also delivering another $100 million for our Safe Places Emergency Accommodation program - because women and children should be able to access a safe space when they need it most.
We've fixed the escaping violence payment, reducing the time it takes victims-survivors to access support by 22 days.
Importantly, we raised the age cut-off to Parenting Payment (Single) from eight to 14, ensuring single mothers get the support they need.
We’ve bolstered the frontline workforce and we’ve extended funding for states and territories to deliver frontline services, including ones that were due to end.
We’ve also continued funding for key national support programs, such as 1800RESPECT.
And we've made family law reform a priority, by making the family law system simpler and safer for people who are fleeing violence, including by putting children at the centre.
It’s vital that victims-survivors are given confidence that the justice system will deliver equitable and consistent outcomes, whilst minimising the risk of re-traumatisation through the justice process.
A significant component of our investment is in prevention.
This work will advance gender equality, promote respectful relationships, develop healthy masculinities and behaviours in men and boys, and make our workplaces safer.
Of course, Government cannot do this alone.
All levels of government, organisations and businesses, workplaces, schools, communities, the media, and individuals including men, must all work together toward our common goal of making Australia a safer place.
In doing this I’d like to acknowledge the tireless work, dedication, and passion of industry leaders, community sector organisations, advocates, and frontline workers who provide vital support to women and children and champion change.
In particular, I’d like to recognise the work of organisations such as No To Violence and Movember, who are actively encouraging conversations around positive and healthy masculinity, and how men can reject attitudes that condone gender-based violence.
This issue can only be solved with a whole-of-society effort.
The positive voices of men, and their strong advocacy and leadership on this issue, is critical to ending violence against women and children.
Crucially, I acknowledge the victim-survivors whose voices and experiences are central to all our efforts.
And I offer my deepest thanks to the victim-survivors who use their experiences as a platform for change.
I am continually in awe of your bravery and fortitude in making these contributions.
Prevention is a key part of our approach to ending violence against women and children, and forms one of the four domains of the National Plan.
Prevention is also the focus of this year’s 16 Days of Activism, which carries the theme: ‘UNiTE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls’.
Much of this vital prevention work is being delivered through partnership with Our Watch, who we’ve provided $100 million over five years.
With this funding, Our Watch will increase prevention activity in key settings, test innovative prevention approaches in new settings, and enhance and expand education campaigns.
In the 2023-24 Budget, our government also committed funding for a number of sexual violence prevention initiatives, including:
- $8.2 million to design, deliver and evaluate multiple trials to prevent sexual harm and violence.
- $3.5 million to support Teach Us Consent to develop resources for young people aged 16 years and above.
- And $6.5 million to work with states and territories to strengthen and harmonise sexual assault and consent laws and improve criminal justice responses for victim-survivors.
One year ago, the Albanese Labor Government appointed the first Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commissioner, Commissioner Micaela Cronin.
The Commission formally embeds the voices of victim-survivors at a national level, ensuring that a diversity of lived experiences are heard and championed.
Importantly, the Commission works with the sector to track progress and measure the impact of the National Plan - keeping Governments accountable to their commitments.
I’d like to thank the Commissioner for delivering the first Interim Statement, tabled in Parliament today.
Our government is committed to ending violence against women and children in one generation.
While significant steps are being taken by Commonwealth, and state and territory governments, as well as key stakeholders - there is more work to be done.
No woman or child in Australia should live in fear.
Change requires everyone to take up the challenge, and we must meet this challenge with unwavering commitment.
The Albanese Government is committed to ensuring all Australians can live life free from violence.
I encourage everyone to use the momentum created by these 16 days of action to continue this advocacy every single day.