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Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 13958

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (10:44): Yesterday I wore a white ribbon in my lapel. Today my lapel is empty. What is exceptional about White Ribbon Day is that it is a male-led campaign to end men's violence against women. It is a powerful symbol to see the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition both speak publicly, using strong terms, about this terrible scourge. Symbols are very important, but to end this culture of violence we need more than symbols. Seventy-seven women have died this year. Seventy-seven women have been killed by violent men this year.

Obviously, we need to stop the violence. We need to stop the culture that allows this violence to continue. Each and every one of us needs to challenge the assumptions that we make. Most of the time, we are probably not even aware that we are making these assumptions. It is so easy to do. There would not be one among us who would not have been guilty of making those assumptions at some time—that little voice in your head that says: 'Why didn't she just leave? She must be exaggerating it. He's such a nice guy. He couldn't possibly be like that.' These are assumptions we have no right to make. By making these baseless assumptions we are feeding the culture that allows this horrible violence to continue.

We—men and women—need to challenge ourselves each time we make an assumption like that. We need each and every time to assume that this violence is happening. It is not a difficult assumption to make when you look at the statistics—one in three women will experience some sort of physical assault. Once we assume that the violence is happening, without question we can then start to help these women with some practical support so that it does not happen again—domestic violence leave so that victims will not be worried about losing their job while trying to access the legal services they need; funding for community legal centres that are on the front line of helping victims access justice and stopping the violence such as the women's legal service where my wife volunteers; and not allowing the violence to continue through the court system by providing legal aid so that women will not be cross-examined by the perpetrators of the violence.

Violence against women is our problem and we all need to do our bit to stop the violence. Putting on a white ribbon is a good part of that program but obviously we need to do something else on every other day of the year.