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Tuesday, 16 November 1993
Page: 2858


Senator CHILDS —Can the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women comment on the response of the stop violence against women program which she launched last week, and what she thinks can be achieved by this campaign?


Senator CROWLEY —On Monday of last week in Sydney I launched the second stage of the Commonwealth's community education program called stop violence against women. That program has a number of slogans. Firstly, it puts the message into the community that real men do not bash or rape women. I am pleased to say that four significant men have agreed to contribute to that campaign: Darren Mercer, Kieren Perkins, James Blundell and Don Burke. Those men are prepared to join the women of Australia in saying that violence against women is totally unacceptable. I have actually placed on the record, but I am happy to say it again, my appreciation for these men who have said that they are very happy to speak out about violence against women.

  At this stage non-violent men are joining women in opposing the violent behaviour of some men in our community. I do not believe that this matter can be overlooked; it is a matter of the greatest gravity. It should be appreciated that those men have been prepared to join the government in this campaign.

  Women have made it clear to us that one of their main concerns is violence against them and their children in the community. It is also clear that violence exists on a totally unacceptable and, indeed, horrific scale against women throughout Australia, as any number of demonstrations and data reveal.

  Part of that stop violence against women campaign consists of this community education program where, as I said, non-violent men have joined women in opposing violence against women. The principal slogans of that campaign are: `Real men don't bash or rape women', `Violent men will lose everything' and `We will not tolerate violence against women'.

  As Kieren Perkins said, `We all have a responsibility to stop pretending that this kind of thing does not happen, to stop making excuses for violent men and to start speaking our minds'. As Darren Mercer added, `I appeal to them and to other sportsmen and sportswomen at the launch to use their influence as role models to say to young people it isn't manly or tough to rape or bash women'. I think that is a very important slogan. The sportsmen and sportswomen do have a considerable amount to offer the community. They are models to our young people. I believe the peer pressure that they will offer by saying to violent men in the community that it is totally unacceptable will make this campaign a great step forward in terms of community education and changing attitudes.

  As well as the publicity-education campaign, I announced a program of community grants at the launch in Sydney on Monday, in Melbourne on Tuesday and in South Australia on Wednesday. We also have special projects which I have listed here before and I am happy to list them again. They include the assistance that the Office of the Status of Women is providing to the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration for the development of its gender awareness programs. It also consists of assistance we are providing to the Family Court for the training of people in the court to know how best to deal with violence and the assistance we are providing to the Australian Law Reform Commission in its inquiry into equity before the law, particularly the impact of violence.

  I do not believe we can speak too strongly against violence against women in the community. I believe this campaign is a very significant second step. It is very impressive that non-violent men are now adding their voice to the voice of women in opposing any violence against women.