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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 123


Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (12:43): I too rise to speak on this very important motion on violence against women that is before the House and to thank the member for Lindsay for bringing this forward. I was very pleased to be able to second the motion.

The death of Eurydice Dixon was tragic news across the nation. She was on her way home from a comedy gig, crossing a park, Princes Park in Melbourne, when she was raped and murdered. Her body was found the next morning by a random passer-by. I didn't know Eurydice, but from all accounts she was a bold, sassy and fabulously opinionated woman, and her life was cut tragically short by a senseless act of violence purely and simply because she was there and she was a woman.

I don't think we should tiptoe around the fact that we have a problem with gendered violence in Australia. That is very clear from all the evidence before us. There is perhaps no clearer symbol of the entrenched gendered inequities than the epidemic of violence and harassment against women in Australia. Certainly, there has been a 13 per cent increase in partner violence against women since 2012. In 2016 alone, over 210,000 Australian women experienced violence at the hands of a current or former partner. Eurydice's death was not at the hands of a former or current partner, but it is very clear that her death is very much part of a much larger issue of gendered violence in Australia. One in two Australian women have been sexually harassed in their lifetimes—that's what our research now tells us. Again, last year alone, 1.6 million women reported being sexually harassed. These are not small and insignificant numbers.

We need to be really clear here that it is not about women having to modify their behaviours. Women have absolutely every right to feel safe in public spaces; in their workplaces; in their homes, where most of this violence against women actually takes place; or indeed online, which is becoming an increasingly problematic area of safety for women.

Last year I was part of a major consultation process across the nation that the Labor Party undertook in terms of what Australian women expected from governments, and I can tell you that, if violence against women isn't the No. 1 issue, it is always one of the top three issues. When you talk to Australian women, whether they're in cities, country towns or regional centres, regardless of their class and status in society, this is the No. 1 issue, as it should be with figures like those we've seen already.

If anything is to come from the tragic loss of Eurydice's life, and the 29 other women who have been killed in acts of violence this year alone, then we need to understand that there are serious structural reforms that need to take place in Australia—reforms to ensure that our prevention agencies, like Our Watch and ANROWS, are adequately funded and supported; that things like respectful relationships in education programs are supported and undertaken in this country; that we have a national focus on the prevention of sexual harassment in workplaces, university campuses and colleges; and that we properly fund women's specialist services, homelessness and legal services, and services for women escaping violence. Nothing less will do.