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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11299


Ms HUSAR (Lindsay) (10:41): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that 23 November 2018 is White Ribbon Day (WRD) followed by the International

Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November;

(2) recognises that WRD aims to prevent violence against women by increasing public awareness and challenging attitudes and behaviours that allow gendered violence to continue;

(3) supports the United Nations UNiTE to End Violence against Women and the 16 days of activism campaigns which are held internationally from 25 November to 10 December each year;

(4) understands that:

(a) this year, as of 15 October 2018, 55 women have been killed by violence in Australia;

(b) one in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them;

(c) each week on average one woman is killed by a current or former partner; and

(d) domestic and family violence is the principle cause of homelessness for women and their children;

(5) acknowledges the high economic cost of violence against women, which is estimated to cost the Australian economy $21 billion a year; and

(6) asks all Members to show their support for the principles of WRD.

Today, I'm proud to rise in support of a campaign to end violence against women and girls. I shared my personal story this time two years ago in the hope that women and girls throughout Australia would know the strength and resilience you can have after violence ends, and that no-one—no matter where they come from or their achievements in life—can have their lives interrupted by violence perpetrated against them. From 25 November until 11 December, we enter into 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls. It's an international movement, one which I support but wish we didn't need.

When we talk about gendered violence, we must recognise the intersectionality of gender violence around the world and, whilst we see it reflected in Australia, mostly in family and domestic violence, some in the world see violence against women as a weapon in war. They are different, of course, but both of them have their roots in the same place—control and power over women. Violence against women can take many, many forms. It can be easy to see for some—physical scars that leave marks which are hard to hide. For other women, violence can be financial—having money withheld or distributed as an allowance. Others may experience psychological and emotional violence, with constant threats and gaslighting. All these forms of violence are about power and control and, ultimately, a power imbalance. It's a story not too unfamiliar with the rest of our society and the power imbalances women are subjected to—not being paid equally, not having equal representation in our parliaments, not having equal positions on boards and having lower retirement incomes than men.

Our society is experiencing a power imbalance, and it is no surprise that power imbalances in our homes are leading to violence at epidemic levels. When our society at large fails to value the contributions of women in our workplaces and our communities, this will continue to be a problem. I've risen many times to speak in support of White Ribbon, speaking up for the need to make the changes required to make sure women are safe in our homes, our streets, our workplaces and around the world. I'm committed to making sure the 63 women who have been murdered in 2018—this year—have not lost their lives for nothing. I do not want to continue to see an increase in those statistics. These 63 women provide each of us with a determination to do better and to be better.

Two weeks ago, we watched in horror as the media reported the rape of a seven-year-old girl while she attended a dance class in Sydney. She was attending her weekly class, like so many children do, her childhood is now interrupted by a violent act against her by a man. Devastatingly, she joins the one in five girls who have been sexually assaulted by age 15 in this country. These are not numbers. These are lives of girls and women who have had their lives irrevocably disrupted by violence perpetrated against them.

These are numbers we highlight, but, of course, we know there are so, so many more—hundreds of thousands of incidences of domestic violence being felt in our country each week. These numbers are just those that are reported for victims we know about. We know many women live in fear of speaking out because, when they do, the punishment is harsh, unrelenting and further used by the perpetrator to continue to instil fear and terror and to launch threats against their victims. We must join together as a nation to be their voices. We must give our strength to them until they regain theirs.

We have reached a national crisis point. How many more women and how many more children must have their lives interrupted before this epidemic is addressed in a substantive and meaningful way? It has never been tolerable to allow this crisis to continue. We are a smart nation. We know what needs to be done. What we don't have, though, is the political will, understanding or desire to fix a problem facing half the nation's population—women. We have leaders who are men and parliaments full of blokes who have likely never been on the receiving end of such treatment, because we know the statistics tell us that this affects women predominantly more than it does men. If you haven't experienced it, it can be hard to understand it.

We know what needs to be done. Our experts and our communities have told us. The list is short, simple and common sense. It is time to fund women's crisis centres so, when it comes time to leave, there is somewhere for women to go. It is time to support women through legal services and for a proper, well-funded Family Court system so, when a woman does leave, she isn't facing systems abuse. It is time to eliminate current behaviours that enable violence against women, to educate and to support programs that shift attitudes and create a society rooted in equality, not power imbalances. It is time to ensure that men who are perpetrators are held to account by treating it as a criminal offence—no longer is it a private matter. We also need to profile offenders in order to better understand their patterns and their likelihood of reoffending and what drives them to offend in the first place. It is time to give women access to paid leave so, when a woman does leave, she can continue her employment and have the security of knowing that her job will still be there. Access to unpaid leave and her own super does nothing to support a woman who needs to go.

It is time to end the gendered slurs on women in workplaces in senior roles— (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Rob Mitchell ): Is the motion seconded?