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Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Page: 738

Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (20:59): Next Monday I will join men and women from across Macarthur in a White Ribbon Golf Day to take a stance against violence towards women. The Campbelltown Domestic Violence Liaison Committee have organised the White Ribbon Golf Day on Monday to raise awareness for this important cause in the Macarthur community. The golf day aims to raise men's awareness of domestic violence and to decrease the tolerance of domestic violence and number of incidents within the Campbelltown local government area.

Not only will the golf day raise awareness but the money raised on the day will fund ongoing local community campaigns well into the future. The majority of men in my electorate know that violence towards women is not acceptable. However, in the 12 months to March 2013, there were 27,840 reported incidences of domestic violence related assaults in New South Wales, according to the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. According to the bureau, Campbelltown was ranked 25th in New South Wales for reported incidents of domestic violence related assaults and it is estimated that only 20 per cent to 30 per cent of domestic violence incidents are reported. This is why the Campbelltown Domestic Violence Liaison Committee works so hard to encourage men and women across Macarthur to take a stand against violence towards women.

I am proud to be a White Ribbon Ambassador. As a former police officer, the issue of domestic violence is one close to my heart. Sadly, I witnessed many cases of domestic violence during the 25 years I spent in the New South Wales Police Force. As a husband and father of two daughters, I found it very difficult to understand how these violent acts could occur, especially when they were instigated by those closest to the victims themselves. Throughout my time with the New South Wales Police Force I was faced with many acts of violence against women, including domestic violence, family violence, wife bashing, sexual assault, rape, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and forced isolation from friends and family. It was heartbreaking to see these occurring against women of all ages and cultures and even more disturbing to see so many people sit on the sidelines refusing to stand up for what is right while those whom they loved came to harm.

Violence against women is a serious problem in Australia. At least one woman is killed every week by a current or former partner. The Australian Institute of Criminology reports that 36 per cent of all homicides take place in a domestic setting and 72 per cent of those involve a woman being killed by her male partner. The Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicate that one in three Australian women over the age of 15 reports having experienced physical or sexual violence at some time in their life. The impact of violence against women is widespread and long standing, generating profound personal, social and economic costs for individuals, communities and the nation.

Sadly, domestic and family violence is a major cause of homelessness for women and their children. This is why White Ribbon Day is so important. It encourages the violence against women to stop and asks those who witness such violence to take a stance for these women and make it clear that it will no longer be tolerated in our communities.

In my electorate, there are still too many examples of domestic violence against women—emotional and physical. But there are also some great initiatives in my electorate as part of the White Ribbon program to stop this behaviour and encourage others to stand up against it. Each year, the Campbelltown Domestic Violence Liaison Committee conducts events to help raise awareness in the local community for White Ribbon Day. The people who take part in these events in Macarthur are helping to strengthen the White Ribbon campaign which began in Australia in 2003. I believe in everything the campaign stands for, especially its primary focus on prevention.

The White Ribbon Foundation works to change our culture, to stop violence before it occurs, with activities in schools, workplaces and the broader community. As an ambassador, I have made a commitment to take an active role in ending violence towards women. I join many men from all walks of life who are passionate advocates for social change.

White Ribbon now has 1,900 active ambassadors promoting the campaign in the Australian community. These men share the White Ribbon message with their networks and through social media highlight the importance of respect for women. They encourage community groups, local councils, workplaces, men's organisations, sports and service clubs to get involved in the White Ribbon campaign. I am proud of the people in my community who support this important cause each year. I thank all the men in Macarthur who have signed up to the cause and have sworn an oath to stop violence against women.

More importantly, I commend every man who has ever intervened or stood up against violence towards women. It is these men who are leading by example and breaking the silence from the front line. They are the greatest ambassadors for the cause and it is thanks to them that we are moving closer to a society where such behaviour is not tolerated. That is the way it should be.

White Ribbon Day is 10 years strong and may it be everlasting in addressing violence against women in Macarthur and across the nation. I stand here proudly with my colleagues, the member for Longman and the member for Hinkler supporting White Ribbon Day.