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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1467

Domestic Violence

Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (15:00): My question is to the Minister for the Status of Women. Members of the House would be aware that today is V-Day. This year, it is highlighting the One Billion Rising campaign, which refers to the number of women around the world impacted by violence. My question to the minister is: what is the Australian government doing to reduce and prevent violence against women and their children, both here and overseas?

Ms COLLINS (FranklinMinister for Community Services, Minister for the Status of Women and Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development) (15:01): I thank the member for Kingston for her question. Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that every day millions of women are subjected to violence and physical abuse. V-Day in 2013 is highlighting the One Billion Rising campaign, a campaign that asks us to consider that one in three women will experience violence in their lifetimes. That is one billion women who are survivors of abuse. It is asking us to do something about it.

In Australia, one in three women have experience physical violence and one in five sexual violence since the age of 15. We have a zero tolerance of violence against women, wherever it occurs. We are taking action in Australia, as well as overseas, in contributing to international efforts. Any act of violence against anyone is of course unacceptable. The cost to the Australian community of domestic violence in this country is more than $13 billion per annum.

This government has committed $86 million to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. Through the plan, we have already invested more than $30 million to help achieve these goals: $17 million on 'The Line', a social media campaign encouraging young people to develop respectful relationships; $9 million to fund respectful relationship projects in communities; $3 million for community action grants to groups and sporting organisations to engage at the local level; and $1 million to the White Ribbon Foundation to develop programs to support workplaces to tackle attitudes to violence against women. Our prevention measures have included recently establishing, with the states and territories, a national centre of excellence to guide and promote research on issues affecting women who experience violence. We have created 1800RESPECT, the first national telephone and online counselling support service for victims, their families, their friends and people who are working with them. We are providing free training through DV-alert for health and allied workers to improve their capacity to respond to women who are experiencing violence. We are improving services for women with disability.

This year's session of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, to be held in New York, has the priority theme of eliminating violence against women and their children. Internationally, Australia continues to support initiatives such as crisis services, counselling and legal support. Violence against women has no geographical, financial or cultural boundary. It is, regrettably, happening everywhere every day. On this day, I join, together with the House, the V-Day organisers in encouraging groups and individuals to demand an end to violence against women and to speak out against it each and every day that it occurs.

Ms Julie Bishop: On indulgence, I would like to associate the coalition with the remarks of the minister. We hope that the government will join with the coalition in extending more humanitarian visas to women at risk in refugee camps. That is a contribution that we should all support.