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Tuesday, 26 June 2018
Page: 6498


Ms O'TOOLE (Herbert) (17:34): I'd like to start by offering my sincere sympathy to Eurydice Dixon's family, both immediate and extended, and to all of her friends and supporters. I never met Eurydice Dixon or her family. I did not know who she was or the attributes that drew people to her as a friend or supporter. I was never fortunate enough to witness one of her comedy shows or witness her true passion for life. What happened to Eurydice Dixon was an absolute tragedy—a tragedy that, sadly, is becoming far too familiar for many women around the nation. This tragic loss of life was, unfortunately, the 30th instance of a woman losing her life to violence by a male this year. The nation once again is mourning the loss of a woman's life far too early. We mourn together for Eurydice and for all the women whose lives have ended as a result of violence.

What made Eurydice's death even more horrific was the fact that she was doing normal, everyday activities. She'd finished her comedy performance, had walked to pick up some food and was walking home through the park, metres from her home. In this instance, what was perceived to be an ordinary activity resulted in a tragic death. Last Monday evening on ABC's Q&A, a woman in the audience spoke about how she carries her car keys in a particular way when walking to her car in the evening. This is her way of protecting herself.

Eurydice's death has again sparked conversation throughout the nation. Women are sharing their stories and speaking out about their experiences of violence. Intense conversation about violence against women in Australia is continual and cannot be ignored. Women cannot live in constant fear of being violently attacked when doing ordinary, everyday activities, like walking home—regardless of the hour. We in this House must take this issue seriously and work to ensure that we, as a parliament, address violence against women, because, if we fail to do so, we fail the Australian people.

Implementing actions that focus on women's safety creates a sense of hope that change is happening and that we, as elected representatives, are delivering strong leadership against any form of violence against women. Over the last few days, the conversation has turned to talk about the culture and structural causes of violence. Walking home should not mean that you are risking your life. Catching a taxi or public transport should not be a dangerous activity. Women have the human right to move freely around the nation without the need for better security cameras or lighting in specified areas; although, these interventions are helpful.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's report Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018 reported that one in six, or 1.5 million, women and one in nine, or 922,000, men are physically and/or sexually abused before the age of 15. The report also highlighted that one in five, or 1.7 million, women and one in 20, or 428,000, men have been sexually assaulted or threatened since the age of 15. These are extremely alarming statistics, especially when we know that children who are victims of or witnesses to family violence or abuse have a heightened chance of experiencing further violence later in life.

We are all aware of the social and economic impacts that violence against women, and family and domestic violence has on our society and community. I'm proud to stand with the Labor team that has announced, under a Shorten Labor government, that we will introduce 10 days paid family violence leave for all workers who need it, as this will boost productivity, improve retention and decrease absenteeism. Labor is demonstrating strong leadership because we want to ensure that those who experience violence are supported. This will contribute to real change in the culture of violence.

However, there is much more to do. Eliminating violence against women is everybody's business. We must adopt the principle: 'if you see it, report it'. I think the words of retired Chief of Army Lieutenant-General David Morrison—'The standard you walk past is the standard you accept'—are incredibly relevant in this context. As a nation, we must not walk past violence against women or domestic and family violence when we witness it. We must stand united. We must take action to ensure that violence against women stops, and that it stops now. We must ensure that our sons and daughters have a good role model and that they are educated from the cradle about acceptable and respectful behaviour. I want the best future for my children and grandchildren, and that is a future that does not include violence against women or domestic and family violence. We, as a nation, need to stand united and say that violence against women stops now. We need to take the appropriate action to ensure our words are enacted, because words without action are not useful at all.