LAUNCH OF THE SECOND ACTION PLAN TO REDUCE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN

Thank you Senator Cash, and I also thank you for the leadership you have taken in developing this Second Action Plan, in partnership with the states and territories, and with civil society.

Both you and the Prime Minister have spoken of the extent of domestic violence and sexual assault in our country.

Prime Minister;

Premier Mike Baird;

Ministerial and Parliamentary colleagues;

Ladies and gentlemen.

The stark facts bear repeating.

One in three women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15, and one in five has experienced sexual violence.

Such statistics never fail to shock.

Behind each is a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend.

How can we, who consider ourselves a civilised society, sit idly by while this happens in our neighbourhoods, our homes, our communities?

We simply cannot.

And we absolutely must not.

There is no excuse for such behaviour.

Not anywhere.

Sexual assault and domestic and family violence against women and children are the most cowardly of acts.

But the terrible truth is that no section of society is exempt. We need to be honest and fearless about this.

That is why the Second Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children we are launching today is so important.

It is why this Australian Government, in partnership with the states and territories, has been steadfast in our commitment to continue to deliver and resource the National Plan.

It is why the Commonwealth has allocated around $200 million to address violence against women and their children under the National Plan between 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2017.

This includes over $100 million in the forward estimates, to keep women safe.

This Second Action Plan is a very strong, united message that violence and sexual assault against women are not acceptable anywhere.

Its 26 practical actions – agreed by all governments – are critical at this point in time if we are to reduce the scourge on our society that is violence against women.

One of the strengths of the Second Action Plan is the call to civil society to play its part.

Violence against women and sexual assault impact the whole community and require a whole of community response.

Strong community engagement is critical, so that civil society drives change, in both attitudes and behaviour.

The Government is investing in initiatives such as the Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children to support civil society to transform community attitudes towards violence.

This is change that is simply not possible if we do not focus on early intervention and prevention.

To stop violence from happening in the first place, we need to work with young people through initiatives like The Line social marketing campaign to build respectful relationships.

Another essential goal of the Second Action Plan – one that has all too often eluded us with tragic results – is that services and systems work effectively together.

Getting service systems to share information, be consistent in their risk assessments and in their perpetrator interventions is of great importance.

It is absolutely vital that corrections, justice, police and community services work effectively together and with services supporting women, to prevent the tragedies wrought by recalcitrant perpetrators.

And of course, we need to continue to learn more about domestic and family violence and sexual assault.

Through data, through research and through local initiatives and successes, we need to discover and share ‘what works.’

This includes what works for those women in Australia who have diverse experiences of violence and can be more vulnerable – Indigenous women, culturally and linguistically diverse women and women with disability.

We need to better understand these diverse experiences and work with communities to provide support and education. We need to respond to harmful cultural practices affecting women and their children.

Only when we know ‘what works’ can we support communities to prevent violence, intervene at the right times, and provide the support that women need to heal and rebuild their lives.

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, which I was pleased to launch just last month, has an important role to play here.

I thank you all for coming today, and for recognising the extent and the breadth of the problem we face.

I look forward to continuing to work together with you all.

I think all of us in this room agree that everyone has a responsibility to confront this evil.

Because everyone has the right to live free of violence.