COAG National Summit to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children – Closing Address

Thank you Minister Power.

And thanks for the opportunity to speak at the end of this important Summit.

It has been really clear to me through the conversations over the past two days just how much dedication and deep knowledge there is in this room.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to thank you all for being here.

I want to firstly acknowledge the groups that made those important statements this afternoon.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegation, the amazing women with disability, and I extend my disappointment that the ramp had been removed from the stage – your voice must be heard.

I want to acknowledge the women of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds that made their statement, and the members of the LGBTIQ communities for their efforts to reduce domestic, family and sexual violence.

Thank you for not only your contribution at this summit and the statements you have made, but your contributions to addressing violence across our communities.

I also want to thank the South Australian Government for co-hosting this summit with the Commonwealth.

Premier Marshall’s comments this morning really demonstrated his government’s commitment to address violence against women, and how it is “not up to women alone to fix this problem”.  

I note that as the Premier was making his remarks this morning, Treasurers from all States and Territory’s jurisdictions agreed to remove the GST from sanitary items.

I also want to thank Natasha [Stott-Despoja] for her excellent work chairing this two-day forum – your humour and intelligence has made this summit enjoyable, and provided an open environment for all participants to feel comfortable. Thank you.

Ministers from across the country have attended sessions over the two days, and I think that I speak on behalf of all when I say it has been very informative for all of us.

It is not often you are able to have a focused conversation on addressing violence against women, and to get an opportunity to listen and absorb the knowledge of people with such deep experience.

The focus has of course been the fourth and final action plan under the National Plan.

The National Plan has been an Australia-wide commitment to addressing family, domestic and sexual violence across the Commonwealth, states and territories.

I think it is important to reflect on what we have achieved over the last eight years under the National Plan.

The First Action Plan put in place critical infrastructure including building the evidence base, establishing the foundations for the national plan.

The Second saw the launch of a national communication campaign – of which we just saw the next phase released this morning.

It also saw a primary prevention framework, a research agenda and a COAG agreement on outcome standards for perpetrator interventions.

The Third improved data collection and analysis, providing more accurate and deeper evidence, including trials of new and innovative approaches.

The number of times I have heard the National Plan Partners mentioned across these two days – that is ANROWS, Our Watch, White Ribbon, 1800RESPECT and DV-Alert -- is testament to the amount of work and progress that has been made under this plan.

So thanks to everyone involved in the work done under these three action plans.

As we move towards First Ministers meeting at COAG later in the year, we will be working with our state and territory colleagues to develop the fourth and final action plan.

The policy development will be drawing heavily on insights from this Summit and the consultations that came before, as well as the knowledge from the first three action plans.

I want to highlight some of the key themes that I have heard across these two days.

People across the country and at this summit have called for increased efforts in both primary prevention and early intervention.

There has also been a focus on supporting people at key transition points in women’s lives, when early intervention can actually stop violence occurring or escalating. 

In addition, and certainly not surprisingly given the prominence of the #metoo movement, there has been a strong and growing emphasis on addressing sexual violence.

In one of the conversations I had this morning, we talked about needing to do more around perpetrators of sexual assault.

It was also clear that the safety of women needs to be considered across all perpetrator interventions.

An issue that has been important to me is the needs of children to be considered in their own right. I know this was the focus of a specific conversation yesterday as well.

It is so important that there are age appropriate supports available for children who have experienced violence.

Addressing the impact of violence on children and families to prevent intergenerational cycles of violence has emerged strongly in discussions here and around the country.

As we all know, violence against women and children is complex.

Another point to emerge from the consultations and the Summit is that every woman and every child who is a victim of violence has their own unique story.

The plan needs to encapsulate the diversity of the Australian people. It needs to be responsive to the needs of women with disability, Indigenous Australians and people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Everyone is different and our responses must mirror the uniqueness of these experiences.

Finally -- and I think testament to the work done by so many in this room -- we need to share the lessons from across our states and territories, and our towns, remote communities and cities.

Many have reflected across the two days at just how important it is to share these lessons.

As this brief summary has shown, the content discussed at this Summit has provided important input to the COAG agenda to prevent violence and sexual assault against women and children.

It has provided the opportunity to consider the feedback from the consultation and to shape a focussed, inclusive and effective Fourth Action Plan.

Again, thank you all for giving your insights and for your hard work over the past two days.

As Minister O’Dwyer said in opening the Summit, we want every woman in Australia to be safe in her home, at her workplace, on the street and online.

The Fourth Action Plan will be crucial to achieving this. It is vital we get it right. Your input has played an important part in making sure we do.

Travel safely back to your homes.