International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Today I rise to speak to acknowledge the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which we will mark this Friday – the 25th of November.

Violence against women is one of the most widespread human rights abuses worldwide.

More than a billion women globally have experienced physical or sexual violence — mostly by an intimate partner.

That’s one in three women. In every friendship group, in every family, one woman who has experienced physical or sexual violence.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is about recognising those women and joining in a global call to action to raise awareness, promote advocacy and create opportunities for discussion on challenges and solutions related to the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

As an international community, this day, and the 16 Days of Activism that follow, is a chance to reflect on this violence, stand in solidarity with victim-survivors, and commit to a world in which all women and girls are safe.

I’d like to take this moment – here in this place – to highlight the sobering statistics that confront us here in Australia.

One woman dies every 10-days in Australia at the hands of her former or current partner.

Before the end of the year, based on these statistics alone, three women will lose their lives to violence, often by someone who has professed to love and care for them.

Every two minutes, police around the nation deal with a domestic and family violence matter.

That’s 5000 calls a week on average.

We know for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, the statistics are even starker.

First Nations women are 11-times more likely to be killed due to experiencing family violence than non-Indigenous women.

They are also 34-times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of violence they face.

The statistics here in Australia on those women who have experienced violence since the age of 15 reflect those globally – one in three.

One in two women have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime.

These statistics have – to – change.

I acknowledge and pay tribute to the strength and resilience of the many victim-survivors of gender-based violence, and acknowledge the trauma of this violence, and its impact on individuals, families, communities and – importantly – children.

We mourn the lives of women and children no longer with us. The lives who have been stolen, often by people they loved or trusted.

I thank the victim-survivors who continue to turn trauma into action and advocacy, who share their lived experiences despite the heavy emotional toll, and help us all be better at addressing this issue.

The statement from victim-survivors at the beginning of the National Plan are powerful words from victim-survivors and remind us why we must take action – I urge everyone to take time to read it.

In recognition of the theme of the 16 Days of Activism - UNITE! Activism to End Violence against Women & Girls – I want to acknowledge the advocates and workers who have continued to drive change and call for action. It can be a tireless and exhausting task with an emotional toll – and we appreciate this commitment.

I acknowledge efforts by workers on the frontline, often women, who dedicate their lives to supporting victim-survivors in their recovery and healing journeys.

I acknowledge the activists who keep the pressure on us all to be better and do better.

We have an opportunity in this place to work together towards making the shared goal of the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments – ending violence against women and children in one generation – a reality.

Last month it was my enormous privilege to release the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032.

The Albanese Labor Government, along with the states and territories, committed to a shared goal of ending gendered violence within one generation.

It’s ambitious. But if we all work together we can achieve it.

It’s my hope that our children, and our children’s children, won’t experience the same levels of violence we are seeing now.

The National Plan provides is the blueprint for a whole-of-society approach to end violence against women and children within a generation. 

This will take time and effort. This is why the National Plan will support and guide our efforts over the next 10 years, and why the Albanese Labor Government is already taking action by making a record investment of $1.7 billion to end violence against women and children.

We have passed legislation to provide paid family and domestic violence leave, and are implementing all recommendations from the Respect@Work report.

We are legislating a positive duty on employers to provide workplaces free of harassment, and investing in consent and respectful relationships education in schools to stop violence at the start.

We are investing $1.6 billion from the returns of the Housing Australia Future Fund to support women escaping DV and older women at risk of homelessness.

It is our commitment to a country free of gender-based violence – where all people live free from fear and violence and are safe at home, at work, at school, in the community and online. Living free of violence is a basic human right.

Violence against women and children is not inevitable.

We know what drives it – gender inequality. To stop this violence before it starts, we must advance gender equality and address other forms of discrimination in every part of society.

In marking this Friday’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we must acknowledge that it’s everybody’s business to address the gendered dimensions that drive family, domestic and sexual violence.

Governments at all levels need to be pulling in the same direction.

But we can’t do this alone. We need businesses, schools, sports clubs – every part of our community – to work hand-in-hand with us.

Now is the time for genuine partnership to prevent violence before it occurs; to intervene early and prevent further escalation; to respond appropriately when violence is used; and to support the recovery and healing of victim-survivors in ways which put them at the centre.

Today and every day, we acknowledge the lives lost to gender-based violence.

We will work to create an Australia where women and children can live their lives free and safely in all settings.

Today – and all days – we say no more. We UNITE! to end violence against women and children.