MOTIONS; White Ribbon Day

October 23, 2017

Mr HAYES (FowlerChief Opposition Whip) (10:25): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that 25 November 2017 is White Ribbon Day (WRD), the United Nations' symbol of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women;

(2) recognises that WRD aims to prevent violence against women by increasing public awareness and challenging attitudes and behaviours that allow violence to continue;

(3) encourages all Australian men to join the 'My Oath Campaign' and take the oath: 'I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women';

(4) understands that:

(a) one in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them;

(b) each week approximately one woman is killed by a current or former partner; and

(c) domestic and family violence is the principle cause of homelessness for women and their children;

(5) acknowledges the high economic cost of violence against women, which is estimated to cost the Australian economy $21.7 billion a year; and

(6) asks all Members to show their support for the principles of WRD by taking the oath and wearing a white ribbon or wristband on the day.

I have long considered violence against women, in particular domestic violence, to be one of the most serious and distressing issues in our community. The date 25 November marks White Ribbon Day, the day declared by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. By now, we should all be familiar with the statistics. One in three women are likely to experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime and one woman is murdered each week by a current or former partner.

Although there's been a profound transformation in public awareness of domestic violence and the level of discourse, it remains a longstanding and complex issue. Domestic violence continues to remain one of the most disturbing issues in our country today. More than 50 per cent of all assaults reported to local police in my electorate are domestic violence related and 60 per cent of boys growing up in an abusive household are likely to become abusers themselves. One thing I find even more confronting is that 50 per cent of girls growing up in such an environment are likely to take an abuser for a lifetime partner, and then the cycle goes on; it perpetuates. Domestic violence remains the leading cause of homelessness amongst women. Added to this are the far-reaching personal and social ramifications for our community. The economic cost of domestic violence is currently estimated at $21.7 billion a year. These statistics make it pretty clear that domestic violence is not an area about which we can afford to put our heads in the sand and say, 'It's just a matter for the authorities.' This is a matter for our communities. We must work together to develop and integrate greater coordination of multi-agency approaches and responses to this issue. However, for me it's a personal issue. As a husband, a father of a daughter and a very proud father of six granddaughters, I am petrified at the thought that, statistically, one of these women who mean more than life to me is likely to become a victim of violence.

Violence against women is real and it's happening in our neighbourhoods, in our suburbs and in our families. It involves women, no matter how successful, strong or resilient they are and no matter what their ethnic or religious backgrounds are. And most of the victims, through fear of reprisal or harm to their children, do not seek help. The number of unreported cases of domestic violence against women is absolutely staggering. If we are to work towards eradicating domestic violence, we must give women the confidence they need to report these crimes and to engage with our police. We need more of our men to stand up and say that violence against women is not acceptable. We need more men promoting and educating the community about violence against women. The simple fact is we do need more real men. It's not right that women live in fear, not knowing when their partner might once again lash out. And today is also a time we should remember those women who have lost their lives through domestic violence and offer our prayers for them and their grieving families.

It's not enough to give speeches as we approach White Ribbon Day. It is imperative we as a community take responsibility and look out for our families, our friends, our workmates and our neighbours. There are a number of organisations in my community working hard to spread the message of violence against women. I would particularly like to acknowledge Karen Willis from Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia as well as Mary Mullens from Bonnie Support Services.

I will be taking part in a White Ribbon Campaign along with many members here and would like to acknowledge Detective Chief Inspector Darren Newman and his team at Cabramatta Local Area Command for hosting a very significant White Ribbon Day event in a couple weeks' time. As a White Ribbon ambassador, I urge all men to take the oath never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. Take the oath but live by the pledge. We must break this cycle of violence.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Rob Mitchell ): Is the motion seconded?