WEL notes that violence against women is at last being recognised. Violence in the home includes violence against the elderly as well as domestic violence and also the murder of young children, often following divorce or separation. Violence is occuring in rural communities as well as urban communities. 34 per cent of women have experienced violence from an intimate partner according to the “Take a Stand” campaign. Two women are murdered every week in Australia. All men must take responsibility for the actions of other men and not look the other way calling it a “domestic”, otherwise they are colluding in a very common crime.
WEL applauds Rosie Batty, the 2015 Australian of the Year, who tackled horrible crimes of Domestic Violence and brought them to the forefront of the news. We look forward to the efforts of David Morrison, 2016 Australian of the Year, who promises to continue the efforts to stop domestic violence and inequality in our society.
June 2014. The Victorian Government plans to abolish the Defensive Homicide law of 2005, stating that it has not worked as intended to protect women who kill abusive partners. Instead, men have been using the law to escape murder convictions when they kill other men. The Domestic Violence Research Centre Victoria (dvrcv.org.au) and the Victorian Women’s Trust (vwt.org.au) explain how the homicide laws need to consider violence against women when changing the law.
- Natasha Stott-Despoja, the former Democrats leader, is the new Chair of a foundation to help prevent violence against women and children. It seeks to develop preventative strategies to protect women and children from violence. The Victorian and Federal governments will provide $9.5m to get the foundation up and operating costs to 2017, according to Police Commissioner Ken Lay. The Victorian politician, Mary Wooldridge, calls it “a national body to inform, educate and empower the community to end violence … we need support and endorsement of government”. The then Federal politician, Julie Collins, said that violence against women is one of the most significant issues facing the community and costs more than $136m per year.
Clare’s Law ‘right to ask’ pilot under way in Wiltshire, UK, 2012. A year-long pilot giving people the right to ask police if their partner has a history of domestic violence has begun in Wiltshire. The scheme has been dubbed Clare’s Law, after a woman who was murdered by a former partner she met on Facebook. If police find the person they are checking has a violent past they can arrange support for the partner. But domestic violence charity Refuge said the majority of abusers were not known to the police. “Only 16 percent of incidents are reported,” said Sandra Horley, Refuge’s chief executive.
The former Federal Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins, announced a new panel to unify efforts on reducing violence against women – April 2012.
Mary Woolridge, former Victorian Minister for Mental Health, Women’s Affairs and Community Services, realeased the Victorian Coalition Action Plan on Domestic Violence in 2012. Click here to read the media release about the new plan.
Click to read the report on Domestic Violence by Mary Crooks of the Victorian Women’s Trust.
The Australian reports that Western Australia will soon introduce some of the country’s toughest laws against domestic violence, requiring a “presumption of imprisonment” for offenders who breach violence restraining orders three times.
Violence in Aboriginal communities is at last being recognised as criminal and not part of any cultural tradition. CLICK on “Rights of indigenous women and children must come first” and “I am Woman Hear me Roar“.
CLICK here to read the excellent article by Anne Gunter, former WEL Victoria Coordinator on Violence against Women, supporting the Victorian Family Violence Bill. The Victorian Government has changed the law to remove provocation as an excuse for violence.
The Federal Government is moving to reduce violence against women. In November 2014, the Prime Minister speaks out in support of White Ribbon Day, denouncing violence against women. Read the statements by the former Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, about CEDAW, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, the National Council Report on Violence. CLICK here to read the draft submission to the National Council on Violence by WEL Australia, in response to the Council’s request for community input.
Note that the final report of the Family Violence Inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission has been launched – visit www.alrc.gov.au. WEL Victoria made a submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission and is joining with other organisations to support the campaign for Family Violence Reform. WEL is particularly concerned that most women and children should not have to leave their homes. CLICK here for more information.
A High Court decision will allow people who suffer psychological illness as a result of rape or other traumatic events, to sue for compensation years later. And a study on the cost of domestic violence to the Australian economy by Access Economics was released in 2004. The study, commissioned under the Australian Government Partnerships against Domestic Violence initiative, has found that domestic violence cost $8.1 billion in 2002/03.
WEL member Anne Gunter notes that the Victorian Office of Women’s Policy has released a report entitled “Safe at Work? Women’s Experience of Violence in the Workplace“. The report points out the problems faced by many women at work. Employers should note that legal remedies will cost them far more than preventative measures which should be part of their normal work safety provisions.
WEL Victoria’s “Freedom from Violence Action Groups” recommended measures to ensure the safety of women at work in several submissions to Victorian governments of the early nineties – a long time ago! Besides arrangements to prevent sexual harassment, we suggested that workplace safety officers should have a specific mandate to attend to particular ways women could be put at risk in the workplace by poor arrangements such as inadequate lighting of buildings [inside & out] for women working late at night. With far more casual work and the extension of the working day to virtually any hours in the 24 [e.g. for retail sales staff] the risks to many women are exacerbated, both at work and when they leave the workplace to travel home. Workplace safety should not merely cover equipment and training to use it, but the whole configuration of the conditions under which employees are expected to work. Many women threatened with violence could or would not talk about it to their employers. As with sexual harassment, this is where an intermediary, such as a safety officer, should be available to hear their concerns. this problem has given rise to the new “#ME TOO” campaign.
Time for Action: The National Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009-2021
It is time to break through the walls of silence, and make legal norms a reality in women’s lives. No woman should be a victim of sexual assault or domestic and family violence, and no woman should fear for her safety at home, at work or in her community. It focuses on strategies and actions for prevention, early intervention, improved service delivery, and justice. Visit the website of government department fahcsia for more information about the National Plan.
Domestic and family violence and sexual assault are not merely personal or unseen problems, they should be regarded as public concerns that affect families, friends, communities, workplaces, and, ultimately, the nation. The accumulation of case upon case of violence against women and their children is a burden which our society must not sustain. Victims and their families must be helped to ensure safer futures not just for individuals but for the conscience of the nation. The cycle of the abused becoming abuser, the splintering of families, and the subsequent splintering of support groups and communities, endangers the future of generations of Australians.
The former Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, has launched a $1.1 million workplace program combating violence against women.
“We need to pull the issue of family violence out of the shadows and challenge the notion that this is a ‘private issue. And this means standing up against violence in all spheres of our lives whether it be at home, in our schools, neighbourhoods or workplaces,” Ms Ellis said. The same is true for women with disabilities. More than a third of women identifying as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex have been in a relationship where their partner abused them. Some women from immigrant and refugee backgrounds also face particular barriers related to their circumstances, and are less likely to receive appropriate assistance from services when they attempt to leave a violent relationship. The Australian Government has a long history of partnering with the White Ribbon Foundation and I look forward to continuing that partnership with the Workplace Program”.
“In the past year a reference group of 20 members has been established and in August 2011 the group met for the first time to endorse a project work plan and terms of reference.. The new program is structured around three key elements – the appointment of ambassadors for positive workplace cultures, accreditation of workplaces that are safe places for women and awards for workplaces that introduce prevention strategies and speak out about violence,” Ms Ellis said. “I’m encouraged to see some of Australia’s leading organisations including Universities Australia, the ACTU and NSW Police already taking stand on violence against women by taking part in this program and I urge all workplaces to get involved. Nearly one in three Australian women experience physical violence and almost one in five women experience sexual violence over their lifetim1. Violence cuts across all aspects of our community – it knows no geographical, socio-economic, age, ability, cultural or religious boundaries”
Ms Ellis said that the Australian Government was dedicated to promoting a zero-tolerance policy on violence and has committed more than $86 million in funding to support the implementation of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children, which is the first of its kind to focus on prevention, including building respectful relationships among young people and working to increase gender equality to stop violence from occurring in the first place.
A copy of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 is available from http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated – “‘Violence against women and girls makes its hideous imprint on every continent, country and culture. It is time to focus on the concrete actions that all of us can and must take to prevent and eliminate this scourge – the United Nations family, civil society and individuals – women and men. Violence against women and their children remains a profound problem in societies around the world, and Australia is no exception. Addressing the causes and solutions to this violence is a great moral and societal challenge. – 25 February 2008.
The previous Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stated:
“As a nation, the time has well and truly come to have a national conversation – a public national conversation, not a private one – about how it could still be the case that so many Australian women could have experienced violence from their partner. It is my gender – it is our gender – Australian men – that are responsible .. and so the question is: what are we going to do about it? There are no circumstances in which the threat of violence against women is acceptable .. there are no circumstances in which the thought of violence against women is acceptable. That on violence against women, we have simple, clear policy in two words: ‘zero tolerance.’
Abuse of the elderly is discussed in Older Women Issues. CLICK on “Abuse of the elderly “
CLICK on the following for more initiatives and details on violence against women:
“Why Doesn’t She Leave?” – An excellent report from the U.K. – http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-violence-articles.asp?section=00010001002200410001&itemid=1277&itemTitle=Why+doesn%27t+she+leave