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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13359

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (Wills) (19:20): I rise in support of my colleague Chris Hayes and other parliamentary colleagues to support the motion acknowledging White Ribbon Day, November 25, a day aimed at preventing violence against women through a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness of the issue.

Violence against women is indeed an incredibly serious problem. I understand that one Australia woman is killed every week by a current or former partner, that one in three women over the age of 15 report physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives, that one in four young people have witnessed violence against their mother or stepmother, that two-thirds of women who experience domestic or family violence are in paid work, and that domestic and family violence is the major cause of homelessness for Australian women and their children.

I am one of the male parliamentarians for the elimination of violence against women who has taken the white ribbon pledge not to commit, not to condone, not to stay silent about violence against women. One of the things we have committed to do is raise awareness of the issue of violence and, in fulfilling this pledge, I would like to speak to the House briefly about the Brunswick community safety forum which I held jointly with the state member for Brunswick, Jane Garrett, on Monday, 19 November, very recently, in response to the death of Jill Meagher.

This forum was attended by 150 Brunswick residents. The Victoria Police Local Area Commander for the Moreland area, Dean McGowan, reported at the forum that crimes against the person are up around eight per cent, that most assaults are perpetrated by someone who is known to the victim and that some 44 per cent are family violence cases. The Moreland district has allocated a new sergeant and two officers dedicated to the family violence issue.

The Executive Officer of Women's Information, Support and Housing in the North, Trish O'Donoghue, urged women to report all incidents, attempted assaults and the like, and pointed out that this will assist police to apprehend offenders before they commit more serious crimes.

Members of the audience asked questions about what action the police were taking to improve security. They talked about the need for more taxi ranks and more CCTV. Police responded that there will be five Protected Services officers at Coburg railway station, which is a crime hotspot. Later on, they are looking at doing more at the Jewell railway station and other areas in the southern part of my electorate. They also said that speaking up is necessary for police to be able to take action, and they observed again that you are more likely to be assaulted inside your home than outside it.

Residents talked about a range of community safety issues. They talked about the extent of population increase in Brunswick and they expressed a view that developers who make a lot of money, with hundreds of apartments going up, should make a contribution to the measures needed to improve safety and that it should not all be the responsibility of council or state governments. They talked about the need for more spending on lighting along pedestrian paths and railway stations. They said that Brunswick Police Station should be made more prominent and basically should be lit up like a Christmas tree. One resident talked about the 292 liquor licenses in Moreland. He believed they should financially contribute to making the community safer, with measures such as late night buses or extra lighting. Residents also talked about the fact that mixed-use planning can encourage slums and crime. In the light of further recent attacks on women in Melbourne, such as the murder of Sarah Cafferkey, I say again that violence against women is never acceptable under any circumstances, and we affirm that women like Jill Meagher and Sarah Cafferkey mattered and that they and their lives were important and meaningful to us.

We had at the forum Michelle Noon from the White Ribbon campaign who gave a very strong presentation. As the House is aware, every year White Ribbon runs an awareness campaign about the issue of violence against women and the role that men can play in preventing this violence. White Ribbon is encouraging men to stand up to violence against women with the knowledge that, and I use their words, 'Thousands of good men have got their back.' White Ribbon's new campaign highlights that men can challenge their mates and others in a way that does not endanger their own safety, knowing that there are many good men who support their actions and that the change starts with good men standing up and letting the perpetrators know that violent attitudes and behaviour towards women are never acceptable.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you, member for Wills. I think it is worth commenting that your electorate's response to the tragic death of Jill Meagher was something that all Australians would find very commendable and a strong community response.