Speeches

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS - WHITE RIBBON DAY 2018

November 26, 2018

Mr HAYES: (FowlerChief Opposition Whip) (12:31):  On 23 November, we commemorated White Ribbon Day, and on 25 November we commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, set by the United Nations.

By now, I imagine we're all pretty familiar with the statistics: one in five women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime and, tragically, currently on average one woman is being murdered each week by a current or former partner. Although community awareness of domestic violence has greatly increased over recent times, this longstanding and very complex issue, domestic violence, remains a major issue in most of our communities. I know that 50 per cent of all assaults reported to my local police are domestic violence related. I'm also aware that 60 per cent of boys growing up in abusive households are likely to become abusers themselves. What I find very, very confounding is 50 per cent of young women growing up in abusive households are likely to take an abuser as a partner, and, therefore, the cycle goes on.

Domestic violence remains one of the principal causes of homelessness for women and families. Adding to this and the far-reaching social ramifications to our communities, the cost of domestic violence is estimated presently at more than $21 billion a year. If the social costs don't alarm everybody, there is an economic cost—an imperative as to why we must act in respect of domestic violence. These statistics make it clear that on domestic violence, we cannot afford to put our heads in the sand and simply say, 'This is a matter for the authorities.' This clearly is a matter for all our communities. We must all work together to help develop an integrated and coordinated multiagency response.

For me, the issue is personal. As you know, Deputy Speaker Vamvakinou, I'm married, I have a daughter and, of my 10 grandchildren, six are girls. For me that becomes very personal because according to that statistic, one is likely to become a victim of violence. Violence against women is real; it's happening in our neighbourhoods. It involves women no matter how successful, strong and resilient and no matter their ethnic or religious beliefs. Still we see a very staggering underreporting of domestic violence cases, probably principally out of fear of reprisal or harm to children. We need to empower women to be able to engage with the authorities, deal with our police and certainly hold people accountable. In fact, we need more men standing up and saying, 'This is not acceptable.' We need more men promoting education within our communities about violence against women. In fact, we probably need just more real men.

Today we should remember those women who have lost their lives to domestic violence, and also their grieving families. Tragically, so far this year 63 women have been killed as a result of domestic violence. It's not enough to simply give speeches around White Ribbon Day. It is an imperative for our community to take responsibility, to look out for families and friends and workmates and neighbours. Over the past week I've had the opportunity to attend a number of White Ribbon functions in my electorate, including at Liverpool railway station, organised by Ragini Naidu; at the Bonnie Support Services candlelit vigil for victims of domestic violence, put together by Executive Officer Tracy Phillips and her team; and at a school assembly at Prairiewood High School, initiated by Gemma Evans and the Student Leadership Council.

While I was unable to attend today's White Ribbon Day walk in my electorate, I'd like to thank all the volunteers for their tireless efforts in coordinating this and, in particular, Superintendent Peter Lennon and his team of the Fairfield Local Area Police Command. As a White Ribbon Day Ambassador, I urge all men to take the oath never to commit, never to excuse and never to remain silent when it comes to violence against women. Take the oath but live by the pledge. We must break this cycle.

WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST