In Australia one in three women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. Almost one in five have experienced sexual violence. These women are our neighbours, our family, our friends, our sisters, mothers and daughters and in some cases us. They are the 1.2 million women or 15 percent of all women who have experienced violence at the hands of their previous partner. 16 000 plus who have endured violence from their current partner.
In Victoria we have been told that Victoria Police responds to close to 140 incidents of family violence every day. These occur in every suburb of melbourne from doveton to toorak - from hawthorn to epping. That is close to one incident every 10 minutes and those are only the incidents we know about. Australian Bureau of Statistics data tells us that onlyone in ten women report violence and of those very few report to the authorities. Most people tell a friend or family member. Two high profile murders of women have made us think that the streets are dangerous places whereas the reality is that women are more at risk from their nearest and dearest when they are at home.
But before we despair we know that things have started to change. Governments have started to try and deal with this plague of violence. The federal government has a ten year plan to reduce violence against women and their children. This plan commenced in 2012 and involves all the state and territory governments. The plans vary from state to state but they all have the same intention to reduce the level of violence, increase services and prevention programs and hold men accountable for violent behaviour.
In Victoria the government has invested $175 million to increase services, reduce and prevent violence against women. This money has been used amongst other things to
- Provide additional services for women and children leaving
violent situations including increasing access to after hours
services and support to allow women and children to stay at home
- Increase access to private rental programs and women’s
refuges for women and children for whom it is too dangerous to
remain in their homes
- Increase the use of the family violence common risk
assessment pro forma to help people recognise situations which are
highly dangerous and might end with a woman or her children being
killed. We all know that the most dangerous time for a woman in a
violent relationship is as she is leaing or just after.
- Develop violence prevention curriculum material for schools
- Increase access for violent men to behaviour change programs
We had no money, no services and no government commitment. We did have something very powerful at that time. We had a firm belief that we could change the system. We knew we could fight and would win. We underestimated how long it would take. We must still fight and we will win. It just takes more time than we thought 40 years ago.
So what can we all do now to bring about more change. We can
- Call the police if we see or hear evidence of domestic
- Support a friend or family member who may be in an abusive
- Volunteer at a refuge or other organisation that helps
survivors or works to prevent violence
- Raise children to respect others.
- Raise boys not to be violent.
- Participate in events like this one today
- Volunteer in youth programs. Become mentors. Get involved in
programs that teach children and adolescents about respectful non
- Ask about anti-violence policies and programs at work and
- Talk with our friends and respectful non violent
- Challenge people who make sexist remarks or perpetuate myths
about family violence and sexual assault .
‘Never believe that a few caring people cannot change the world. For indeed that is all that ever has.”
You are the few caring people. Go ahead and change the world.