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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6271


Ms HUSAR (Lindsay) (12:23): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that the rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon is the 30th instance of a woman being killed by men's violence against women in 2018;

(2) recognises the importance of providing strong leadership in changing men's behaviour towards women to prevent such behaviour by men;

(3) understands that:

(a) at least one women a week in Australia is killed at the hands of a man, usually a current or former partner;

(b) one in three Australian women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15; and

(c) one in five women has experienced sexual violence;

(4) acknowledges the social and economic impact that violence against women has on our communities; and

(5) encourages all Australians to not wait until International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (White Ribbon Day) in November to be active, engage on this issue and take action.

It shakes me to my core that in 2018 women are still not safe on our streets, in our communities and, more disturbingly, in their own homes. Women have been marching to reclaim the night since the 1970s and, frankly, I am tired of trying to take back something that should not have been taken from us to begin with. Rape, violence and murder still continue to be perpetrated against women, largely by men known to them. They are women who deserved better than what this government has done to protect them. I acknowledge all the women who have been killed at the hands of men. They were vibrant women who deserved better than to have their lives simply extinguished in moments, their final breaths painful and extremely violent. At the request of Eurydice Dixon's family, I wish today to remember all women killed by violence this year: Qi Yu, Caroline Willis, Karen Ashcroft, Cynda Miles, Katrina Miles, Debbie Combargno, Cecilia Haddad, Kay Dix, Teah Luckwell, Simone Fraser, Katherine Daley, Kerrie Keath, Marija Karovska, Le Ngoc Le, Sally Rothe, Radmila Stevanovic, Noura Khatib, Nancy Barclay, Amelia Blake, Antonia Tatchell, Margaret Indich and eight other, unnamed, women. One of these women was killed violently across the road from my own home. Time limits exclude me recounting the terrible ways in which all these women's final moments were spent. It is our collective responsibility to remember these women and act to keep all women across Australia safe.

I applaud the work that is being done by the Andrews government in Victoria, which is being led by their Minister for Women, Natalie Hutchins, and their new TV advertising campaign calling out disrespect of women. Lasting and meaningful change for women is what this country needs. It means leading by example and lifting your own standards, and holding those around you to account if they do or say something disrespectful to women. This is the exact kind of campaign we need to change the behaviour that we see far too often.

We have had a Prime Minister who has had no shortage of opportunities to call out his own members, senators and party members for disrespect, and each time he has failed dismally. The Prime Minister, at every opportunity—and that's every opportunity where he's wearing a white ribbon or a purple ribbon for White Ribbon Day or International Women's Day—says:

… not all disrespect of women ends up in violence against women, but all violence against women begins with disrespecting women.

What I hear from our community is, 'But what is he doing about it?' He has had ample time to stand up for women, which would mean standing up to his own colleagues. When Michaelia Cash, the then employment minister, cast aspersions over young, aspirational women working in the opposition leader's office, he said nothing. This was disrespect. He had the chance when the health minister got busted for verbally abusing and physically intimidating a woman, who then only apologised months after the media intervened. He missed his opportunity again. Recently, at a Liberal Party meeting, where an older women was physically assaulted by a man, he said nothing. These are all examples of disrespect towards women, and they are all reasonable and fine opportunities for this Prime Minister to demonstrate that his commitment to women is not just a set of well-chosen words; they are opportunities for him to demonstrate that he is prepared to act. His words and his actions do not accord with community expectations. We need a leader to lead, to act on real reform when it comes to violence against women; however, he has shown absolute cowardice in his ability to call out poor behaviour in his own cabinet. Silence and inaction will only allow this disrespect to continue. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. It is time this man raised his own bar and set the standard for the people around him and this country.

The Liberals talk a big game about being responsible economic managers; if this government is serious about creating real and meaningful change in this country, they would save the Australian economy an estimated $21.7 billion a year, not to mention countless lives of the women who deserve better. We need to speak up and we expect our leader to stand up. We need to speak up for the women who can no longer speak for themselves, women whose lives were tragically cut short by the scourge of gendered violence, because enough really is enough. The women of this country deserve better, and we need to act now before another woman is killed at the hands of her partner or at the hands of another man.

The most dangerous place for a woman on a Saturday night is in her own home surrounded by the people who love or claim to love her. This is not something that I want for my daughters, who are now 16 and 10. I do not want them marching for another 30 years in the streets to reclaim the night. May the women that we've lost already this year to gender violence rest in peace.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Bird ): Is the motion seconded?

Ms O'Toole: I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.