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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13354

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (19:01): I rise to speak in support of the honourable member's motion. In speaking in support, it is important to put on the record what the motion actually is about. It is about 25 November—which was yesterday—which is White Ribbon Day. It is a day aimed at preventing violence against women in Australia. It is about encouraging Australian men to join the My Oath campaign to challenge the attitudes and behaviours that allow violence to continue.

White Ribbon Day was established in Australia in 2003. It was a unique campaign by men and for men, with women's support, to prevent and reduce violence against women and girls. In 2007 the White Ribbon Foundation was established in recognition that achieving attitude change on violence required a long-term and high-profile commitment to work within communities to engage men and boys. The White Ribbon Foundation has a variety of ways of doing this. It works through a combination of awareness-raising campaigns, community events, and initiatives with schools, universities, workplaces and sporting organisations. It is most widely known for initiatives around White Ribbon Day and the 'I swear' campaign, which has been expanded to the 'I've got your back' initiative and the White Ribbon ambassadors, who are frequently high-profile men in our community.

Every year there are around 350 events held across the country, mostly on or around White Ribbon Day. People register these events on the White Ribbon website. Of these, 50 are coordinated by the White Ribbon Foundation. They mainly also include fundraising. To date, over 220 events have been registered on the White Ribbon website, and there will be many more going on in communities all around the country.

I am pleased to say that there was Australian government funding for the White Ribbon Foundation—$1 million over four years to 30 June 2014—enabling them to do some of this work. It is important work because it is profile raising, it is about being in the public eye and mind. Whenever we talk about domestic violence everybody in this House says how dreadful and terrible it is and how it should not happen, but it continues to happen. I worked in a women's refuge and I set up the Far North Coast Domestic Violence Liaison Committee. I have also been involved in a whole range of things in my community, along with other good people. We continue to tackle it and attempt to reduce it. We want it to end. But it continues to happen. It is a long-term goal to change attitudes in our society so that it is just not acceptable anywhere. To those of us who find it abhorrent and unacceptable and wonder why it continues, there are still many people with the attitude that it is okay, it is all right, or who do not even think about it—they just think it is part of our society. The Prime Minister and the Minister for the Status of Women yesterday in speaking on this issue said that, to achieve a sustained reduction to violence against women and girls, every sector of the Australian community must act—and we must. Sometimes it can be challenging to know when and how to act. If we know about it and we know someone who is perpetrating it or someone who is a victim of it, we must find ways of making it not acceptable and giving support to the person who is suffering it. Women often leave and they are forced back because they need somewhere to live. I think that it has to be the No. 1 priority right across all the services that, if a woman leaves and she leaves with her children and she needs accommodation, that accommodation just must be given. It has to be given and it has to be immediate. With those words, I commend the motion.