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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13356

Mrs ELLIOT (RichmondParliamentary Secretary for Trade) (19:10): I rise in support of the motion by the member for Fowler and acknowledge his long-term commitment to the principles of White Ribbon Day. I know he has been a very strong advocate of raising awareness about this issue for many years. I also acknowledge and commend all the other speakers on this very important motion.

We know that White Ribbon Day is so important to the whole community in terms of raising everyone's awareness about the devastating impact of domestic violence, and I speak to it tonight, particularly from the perspective of a former police officer. I saw all too often the reality of domestic violence as a general duties police officer. I saw the devastating impact upon women, their children and their families and indeed our community as a whole. So I have a very strong commitment to making sure we work together to take action in relation to this.

The purpose of White Ribbon Day is primarily to highlight the devastating impact of domestic violence and how we can work together to prevent it, to stop it. We know that White Ribbon Day is observed nationally on 25 November each year in conjunction with the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and aims to raise awareness for the prevention of violence against women.

This day to raise this awareness was brought about by a terrible tragedy. In 1989, 14 women were shot dead at the Montreal school of engineering by a young man. This very brutal act triggered the creation of the White Ribbon campaign. It is the largest effort by men across the world working in partnership with women to end violence against women.

White Ribbon Day stands as a stark reminder to us that violence against women in any form or context is absolutely unacceptable, and I encourage everyone to get involved with the campaign by joining the My Oath Campaign and taking the oath:

I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women

It is important that we recognise that the White Ribbon Day initiative has become a catalyst for many women to seek help, so it is important that we talk about it here in our communities constantly to raise awareness and hope that it assists women in accessing help and support.

I also want to mention an important organisation in my electorate, the Tweed Shire Women's Service, that provides vital support services for women. They provide advocacy, information and support to many women who have been in situations or are in situations experiencing domestic violence, escaping domestic violence as well as supplying support to their families. This service was first established in 1987, and they have also provided lots of early intervention and crisis accommodation for women.

I am proud to be the patron of this outstanding organisation, which has for over 24 years made a huge difference to the lives of many women and children and also a huge difference to the community by the remarkable work that they do and continue to do. It is through the work of organisations like the Tweed Shire Women's Service, other support services, police and emergency services combined with the continued awareness of White Ribbon Day that together we can make a difference: we can stop this happening.

I would also like to recognise the fact that this government has a very strong and proud commitment to providing support for women and families that are affected by domestic violence. I was particularly pleased today with the Prime Minister's announcement that the government would be providing funding for the international conference into domestic violence programs, which will be held next year. The Prime Minister announced that the Gillard government will provide $20,000 in funding from the Women's Safety Agenda to support this important Australian-first conference, which will help increase awareness of the best ways to combat violence against women. It was great to have that announcement today.

The Gillard government is committed to crime and prevention activities aimed at reducing violence against women and their children. The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 brings together the efforts of governments across the nation. This government has committed $86 million to initiatives under the national plan to improve the lives of women who have experienced violence. So it is really important to have that major commitment and, indeed, the commitment right across the country from all levels of government so that everyone is working together. I think we would all agree that every year we are seeing awareness raised more and more and we are seeing many more campaigns. It is really good to see that throughout the community people are speaking out. They are taking the oath.

As a former police officer I saw day to day—constantly—the impacts of domestic violence and now I see that these positive improvements are a major step. We certainly have a long way to go and, through increasing awareness raised by White Ribbon Day, we are achieving a lot. We should recognise that and I commend everyone who has spoken tonight and those who are intending to speak in terms of working together to make sure that we are improving the situation for women and their children right across the country, and those who are affected by domestic violence.