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Monday, 23 October 2017
Page: 11464

Mr PERRETT (MoretonOpposition Whip) (10:36): I'm pleased to support this motion put forward by my good friend the member for Fowler. And, like him, I agree that domestic and family violence are the scourge of our time. It is a disgrace that, on average, one woman a week is killed by a partner or a former partner in our nation; it is a disgrace that one in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner; and it is a disgrace children are being exposed to this violence, with more than half of the women who experience violence having children in their care.

While we talk about violence against women, I want to stress that all violence is wrong. But the evidence is undeniable that family violence is gendered. Both women and men are more likely to experience violence at the hands of men: 95 per cent of all violence is reported to be perpetrated by men. While men are more likely to experience violence from other men in public places, women are more likely to experience violence from men they know—and most often in their own home, the very place where they should feel safest. While, statistically, family violence is a gendered problem, the solution must be driven by everyone. It is especially important that men speak out against family violence and that men—all men—are part of the solution.

The member for Fowler's motion recognises White Ribbon Day, which will be held on 25 November. White Ribbon Day was initiated in Canada in 1991 by a group of men in Toronto. Tragically, it was formed in reaction to a horrible episode of violence against 14 female university students. The men wanted to raise awareness of violence against women and to encourage men and boys to be a part of the solution. White Ribbon Day is now recognised in over 57 countries around the world. White Ribbon Australia strives to encourage Australian men to be a part of the solution, to make the safety of Australian women an issue for Australian men too.

I want to stress that only some men resort to violence. Most men, most gentlemen, would agree that violence against women is never acceptable. But in order to change the culture that allows some to think it is acceptable, we need all men to speak out when they see any violence against women. We need all men to speak out when they see women being disrespected. We need all men to speak out when they see women not being treated equally.

We know that the predominant cause of violence against women is gender inequality. Readjusting the balance between men and women in power, resources and opportunity will only be accomplished when all genders are driven by that same objective. Then it starts out calling out the little things. It's those excuses for bad behaviour that we accept: 'Boys will be boys', or, 'He was just being a lad.' It's the patronising comments: a male tradie saying to a capable woman, 'You better check that with your husband.' It's the sexist comments: the football coach saying, 'Don't be a girl.' It's the gender pay gap that sees women doing the same job as men but earning on average 16 per cent less pay. This is gender inequality and it should be called out every time, even if it is uncomfortable. A brief moment of feeling uncomfortable is nothing compared to the suffering of women who are beaten black and blue—or worse, murdered by their violent partner.

It is up to everyone, but especially men, like me, to challenge gender inequality every day, wherever we see it and wherever we hear it. We need to change the conversation so that men are part of the solution, not the cause. Until we have gender equality we will not eliminate violence against women, and until we have eliminated violence against women we need to make sure that women experiencing family violence are given the support that they need from services like the Women's Legal Service Queensland, which is actually based in my electorate of Moreton.

This year's White Ribbon 'my oath' campaign is asking men to take an oath. The oath is: I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. I will be taking the oath and I encourage every Australian man to do the same. Whether you're a politician, a bus driver, a lawyer, a plumber, a teacher, an accountant or a baker, whether you live in Sydney, Brisbane, St George or Sunnybank, every man has the power to stop violence against women. Each time we don't speak out we are giving permission for violence against women to continue and for harm to flow on to children too often. Each time we don't speak out we are empowering the abuser. Each time we don't speak out we are failing every woman and, ultimately, every man.