International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
Ms WELLS (Lilley) (12:10): I move:
That this House:
(1) recognises that:
(a) 25 November 2019 was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women; and
(b) this year's focus was 'Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape';
(2) acknowledges that:
(a) sexual violence against women and girls is a widespread and persistent human rights issue;
(b) 1 in 5 Australian women report having experienced sexual violence;
(c) 1 in 6 Australian women report having experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner; and
(d) according to the United Nations, violence against women remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it; and
(3) asks all Members to recognise that violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving gender equality in Australia and across the globe.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was marked on 25 November 2019. Every year 25 November marks the beginning of 16 days of activism against gender based violence, ending on 10 December—Human Rights Day. The United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as the date for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to commemorate the date in 1960 that the three Mirabal sisters, who were political activists, were assassinated. The premise of the day is to call to attention the urgent need to end violence against women and girls and to mobilise meaningful action.
Before tabling this motion I considered what the effect of the motion would be and whether it would fulfil any great purpose. I hesitated as to whether my motion would have any meaningful effect on the call to action that the day represents. Since the Mirabal sisters were assassinated in 1960 we have had countless campaigns, motions, treaties and media stories about ending violence against women. Almost 60 years on women and girls are still being violently abused, raped and murdered every week, both in Australia and across the globe. But I am angry. I am angry that, between the date I drafted this motion, roughly three weeks ago, and speaking in this chamber now, four women have been violently murdered in our country. I am angry that there is a dialogue in Australia around no-one being pro-violence against women but that, so far this year, 51 women have been violently murdered in Australia across only 48 weeks. I am angry that those 51 women haven't covered the front pages and been in the headlines of every news outlet and haven't featured at the top of every news bulletin; they've received brief mentions, if any at all. I am angry that, on the fourth day of the 16 days of activism against gender based violence, police found the body of a woman in her late 30s in a freezer in a unit in Pymble, New South Wales, and that, instead of reporting about the person who murdered her, an Australian media outlet reported that the murdered woman had a strong and aggressive personality and often nagged her quietly-spoken husband. Whatever her personality was, I would note that she doesn't have the privilege of it anymore.
I am angry that one in six Australian women have experienced violence from a partner, one in five Australian women have experienced sexual violence and one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence. I am angry that women and girls with disability are twice as likely as women and girls without disability to experience violence throughout their lifetime. I am angry that hospitalisation rates for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander women due to family violence are 30 times higher than for non-Indigenous women and girls. I am angry that Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander women and girls are 11 times more likely to die due to assault. I am angry that in 2019 there is still rhetoric about disgruntled women using false complaints of violence as a tool for revenge, and I am angry that the same people use this as justification for not acting with appropriate urgency and backing it with money.
Violence against women remains largely unreported due to the impunity, the silence, the stigma and the shame surrounding it. Australian women need to know that their elected representatives can hear them, that they care and that they are angry too. So I table this motion today for them, because Australian women and girls need more voices and need stronger voices here in this place, where we have the power to fund programs and make policy that can end violence against women and girls in Australia.
I would like to recognise some of the groups in my electorate that are actively working in the community to assist women who have experienced or who are experiencing violence and abuse. The Nundah neighbourhood centre runs journey programs for women who have experienced abuse in their intimate relationships, and encourages women to look after their physical and emotional wellbeing and rebuild their confidence. The Nundah community legal service acts as a first point of contact for women who need legal advice relating to domestic violence or family law issues, and I give a shout-out to all of the volunteers who continue to work there, as I did before my election.
Wayne and his team of workers and volunteers at Connected Inc. in Geebung run a not-for-profit charity that helps women and children fleeing domestic violence with clothes, furniture and manchester. The Youth Housing Project provides supported medium-term accommodation to young people, including young women who find themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness due to domestic violence. From the bottom of my heart, I thank these people and organisations who are working to provide a helping hand to women and girls experiencing violence in our country.