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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13360

Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (19:26): This year, the White Ribbon Day campaign is its 11th year, and the campaign is as pertinent as it was when it began. Research, as we know, reveals that as many as one in three women experience physical violence in their lifetime and one in five experience sexual violence in their lifetime. These numbers are far too high. The White Ribbon Day campaign is about reducing the number of women in Australia who experience violence perpetrated against them. The White Ribbon Day campaign is about changing the culture in our society so that violence against women is completely unacceptable. White Ribbon Day encourages men to take a stance in their lives and in their relationships with other men to let them know that violent and predatory behaviour against women will not be tolerated.

What makes White Ribbon Day unique is that it does not seek to preach to men using a top-down approach, because we know that the top-down approach to education and public awareness campaigns that aim to change or influence behaviour does not have a great deal of success in achieving goals. In contrast, the White Ribbon Day is about change on the ground through peer-on-peer influence. The White Ribbon Day seeks to inspire men to stand up publicly in their networks and make it clear that they will never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence. Having personally witnessed the devastation that violence against women can have on families and communities, I believe that the White Ribbon Day is a campaign with a lot of merit. This is a campaign that every man in Australia needs to offer their full support to. As a nation, we need better awareness about the devastation that violence against women has on our society. It is for this reason that I again took the oath of the White Ribbon Day campaign. As I have said in this place before, violence against women has far-reaching effects. Violence impacts on women for the rest of their lives and even beyond. Violent behaviour is easily modelled by victims and witnesses, resulting in a dire intergenerational outcome. Unfortunately, there are all too many instances of generational learning of violent behaviour against women. We need to take a stand now to ensure the safety of the next generation of Australian women.

One community group in my electorate has taken-up the fight to stop violence against women. The Midland Information, Debt and Legal Advocacy Service Incorporated, known as MIDLAS, has this year run its own campaign for White Ribbon Day. MIDLAS created a series of short videos featuring community leaders of all ages, political persuasions and professions swearing the oath to end violence against women. I was pleased to be able to lend my own voice to this important initiative. It is fantastic to see so many people from my community get behind this great local campaign. It is through the efforts of MIDLAS and other community organisations that we will begin to see genuine change in our culture and an end to violence against women.

Violence against women can also result in dislocation of women and children in times of hardship; isolating women from their support networks and making it difficult to end the cycle of abuse. The emotional cost alone is enough reason for us to take action now to stop the cycle of violence. But on top of the emotional toll is an economic cost. It is estimated that violence against women in 2008-09 cost our country $13.6 billion, and if we do not take action against violence against women it is estimated that in 10 years we will face a cost of $14.6 billion. The financial and social cost of violence is far too high. I encourage all men—including my parliamentary colleagues and men in my local community—to seriously consider swearing the White Ribbon Day oath to take a stance against violence against women. We are role models in our communities and it is important that we lead by example. Violence against women is a serious and important matter—one that we need to shine a light on and bring out of the shadows and into the open. Violence against women will never be acceptable in any circumstance. Australian men cannot afford for this important issue to go unchallenged. No woman should ever be in fear of violence in the workplace, in her home or in a social context. Australian men need to do everything in our power to make sure the women around us are safe. If we do not make the effort, the intergenerational changes will not occur in the way that we require. In my work as an undertaker and as a teacher I have seen the end result of violence against women and the impact that it has.

Debate adjourned.