Domestic Violence


I move:

That this House acknowledges the work of:

(1) community legal centres in tackling domestic violence;

(2) the United Nations and its 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign to end domestic violence;

(3) journalist Ms Sarah Ferguson for her ongoing efforts to educate the public on the key driver behind domestic violence—control;

(4) the Leader of the Opposition for appointing a Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Child Safety and Prevention of Family Violence; and

(5) the Victorian Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, for her work on Victoria's Royal Commission into Family Violence.

I rise today to talk once again about domestic violence—the national scourge that has attracted our attention so poignantly this last week. As we all know, domestic violence is not restricted to one suburb or one part of our society. It transcends all cultural, class and religious boundaries. It is about control, it is about violence and it is born from gender inequity. The result of domestic violence is the undermining of one's self worth, and it has always been with us. As I said last week on White Ribbon Day, the conversation, however, has changed. We are finally having a serious national conversation. We cannot go back from this point. We must keep shining a light on this epidemic.

To that end, I commend journalist Sarah Ferguson's two-part series Hitting Home. Sarah has spent six months on the front line, documenting the terrible realities for so many families. She followed women as they went through the court process seeking AVO's. The pressure and difficulty of going to court has been highlighted in this documentary series—the formality of the court process and the absolute humiliation of having to attend a court to have that court seek to protect you from someone who purports to love you. I also commend the work of community legal centres and women's refuges in ensuring women are not alone facing their worst day and not alone when making decisions about what to do when they find themselves in these situations. I must stand here today and condemn this government for its cuts to funding these services, and for the cynical way it pays lip-service and makes announcements about new funding which still represents real cuts in real terms.

The statistics are alarming: 650 domestic violence incidents nationally each day; one every two minutes; 240,000 a year. But it is not the statistics that will change behaviour; it is the stories. We could stand here for hours detailing these horrific statistics; we have all heard them before. But the real stories make those statistics more stark—the individual stories that we are seeing on our televisions will, we hope, carry the change in behaviour. To that end, I commend the Victorian state government, led by Daniel Andrews, and Minister Fiona Richardson for the royal commission that is occurring in Victoria and for highlighting those stories and sharing them across our society, because they do merely become a statistic if you take away the individual stories.

Again, the statistics and data are important. To that end, I commend Bill Shorten and the Labor opposition for their announcement that the victims of domestic and family violence will be eligible to take leave as a universal workplace right. This is an important thing to occur in this country. It supports victims and ensures their rights under the law. It shines a light. It names and shames, in workplaces, those perpetrators. It ensures that workplaces will support the victims of domestic violence. It will also do a really important job and that is that it will accumulate the data; it will tell a story about the economic impact of domestic violence in our workplaces. As we all know, we measure those things that are important to us. So in measuring this and putting this domestic violence leave, as we are calling it, into our workplaces, we will, therefore, be collecting important data on the economic impacts of domestic violence.

I also want to commend the Victorian state government for joining the United Nations and its 16 days of activism. It was a proud moment when Spring Street was lit up orange last week. I have followed closely the work of Minister Richardson as every day so far of these 16 days she has made a point about domestic violence and carried it in our mainstream media. I hope that in this place the issue remains constant, that we mark the damage and the actions set to change those underlying factors, and we mark the changing behaviours that we hope come from this. But make no mistake: it is about gender inequity and it is about control. I am proud to be a part of the Labor Party that sets target for equal representation of women in our parliament. I am proud to stand here today with my sisters.