TAHYNA MACMANUS: In a change of pace now, sadly family domestic and sexual violence is a big issue in Australia. In fact, one in four women and one in 13 men have experienced intimate partner violence. Our next guest agrees those statistics are shocking and wants to do all she can to change them. Let's welcome Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, to the show.
Thank you so much for being here.
AMANDA RISHWORTH: Great to be with you.
TAHYNA MACMANUS: Thank you. So, Minister, Stop it at the Start aims to break the cycle of violence. So can you tell us a little bit about the campaign?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: One of the pieces of research that’s come out that showed really concerning is that the disrespect and the attitudes that children and others have towards violence against women actually has a big impact. So, we need to make sure that we’re changing the dialogue and the conversation to promote more respectful relationships with children to ensure that we actually do break that the cycle of violence against women and children. So, really starting to have a conversation early on about what respect it looks like, what gender roles are and breaking down some of the discrimination against women and girls is really important to actually ending the cycle of violence against women and children.
TRISTAN MACMANUS: So what do you feel are the best ways to start teaching our kids about this? I mean, ideally, you don't want to see it first.
AMANDA RISHWORTH: Absolutely. Well, the first is to be conscious of your own behaviours. There’s throwaway comments we can make or the sort of behaviour we excuse, and those things we need to be really conscious ourselves of. I can think of circumstances where I’ve said, boys will be boys, those sort of things for aggressive behaviour. We’ve got to be really careful backing in those stereotypes, so I think that is the first thing.
All adults need to be really cautious of what are those signals we’re sending to children, but in addition, it’s about starting those conversations. And every adult has a role. This doesn’t just fall to parents. This is about grandparents, this is about community members actually having those conversations, and they can sound a bit confronting. You know, what are we talking about in terms of those conversations?
But it’s really about having a conversation with children – have you seen any disrespectful behaviour? Have you been disrespected yourself? Do boys and girls get treated differently at your school? They are the sorts of conversation starters that you can have. And that’s part of what this campaign’s about, is helping adults have those conversations with children so that we can start promoting those respectful relationships.
TAHYNA MACMANUS: I think this is wonderful as a parent as well – we’ve got two young sons and a daughter, so I think it’s amazing. And you’re releasing the next National Plan to end violence against women and children in October this year. So how will this help on a practical level?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: That’s a really good question. Of course, what we want to do with the National Plan to end violence against women and children is get the Commonwealth government, the states and territories, but whole of community pushing in the same direction. You know, the statistics as you mentioned are just too high – in fact, every 10 days one woman is killed by their former or current partner, it's shocking.
So we need to be all pushing in the same direction, but we also need to balance our efforts. We need to of course help those women currently at risk and in difficult circumstances, but we need to focus on prevention and early intervention as well, or we’ll never stop the cycle.
TRISTAN MACMANUS: What kind of practical help is available now for people right who might be experiencing this family or domestic abuse?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: There’s lots of services available, but I am going to point people to one particular service: 1800RESPECT, it’s a phone number or you can go to 1800.gov.au (sic). That is your sort of one-stop shop where you can talk to someone, get referrals, get information. For some people they may not realise that they’re in an abusive relationship, especially things like financial control or psychological control, so this is a confidential service that then can connect you up with the right people to give you that help.
TRISTAN MACMANUS: It’s so important and great to speak about. Thank you.
TAHYNA MACMANUS: Yeah. Thank you. Every little talk you have shapes your children, bringing up respect grows respect. For conversation starters, tools and resources, visit respect.gov.au and for anyone who feels triggered by anything we have discussed today, you can free call 1800RESPECT, which is 1800 737 732 for help any time.
TRISTAN MACMANUS: Thank you so much.