Monday, 21 November 2011
Private Members' Business
White Ribbon Day
As a White Ribbon Ambassador I believe that first and foremost I have to be a man who embodies the values, ethics and morals expressed in the campaign in my everyday life at home, at work and in my community. I am the father of two adult daughters. It is my dream, aspiration and hope that they will live their lives in a world without domestic violence. It is my hope that as an ambassador I can be a role model for other men and for boys to know that violence against women is unacceptable in any form, and that is a message that should be perpetuated throughout our community. It is disturbing that violence—gratuitous and unnecessary—has become an acceptable part of our lives. It is evident in our movies, on television and in music. All too often our children have become immune to the impact of violence and have experienced simulations of violence on their computer, PlayStation and Xbox. Even more disturbing is that too many children experience violence in their homes. We know that children who are exposed to violence are more likely to themselves become victims or, as adults, become perpetrators. I applaud the Prime Minister and the COAG process for the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children 2010-12. The plan reminds us that, while living safely and free from violence is everybody's right, reducing violence is everyone's responsibility. The national plan targets two main types of violence: domestic and family violence and sexual assault. These are gender specific crimes; they have an unequal impact on women.
As has been said before by the member for Fowler—and I commend him for his foresight in bringing this motion into the House—one in three Australian women has experienced some form of physical violence by the age of 15 and almost one in five has experienced sexual violence. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2005 some 350,000 women experienced physical violence and over 125,000 experienced sexual violence of some description. Indigenous women and girls are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than any other Australian women and girls, a point reinforced by the Doing time report from the House of Representatives ATSIA committee.
This federal Labor government has committed $96.4 million over four years to combat violence against women, including $25 million towards ending violence in Papua New Guinea and throughout the Pacific. The White Ribbon campaign is the only national male led violence prevention program. It targets men in particular and urges us to take a stand and not turn a blind eye towards violence against women.
Sadly, as the member for Fraser pointed out, it is familial danger, rather than stranger danger, which is the risk for most women and girls. As an accredited family law specialist before I entered parliament, I saw the impact of domestic violence on thousands of clients and their children. Sadly, most people turned a blind eye. In fact, it was difficult from time to time to get the courts to take domestic violence seriously. And all too often police only think of it as 'a domestic', when, if perpetrated on the street, it would result in immediate apprehension, incarceration and prosecution.
Too many women and children are victims of domestic violence. The real tragedy is that there is a failure to recognise what domestic violence really is. It can be familial isolation, financial domination, stalking, friendship denial and a host of other things, including spiritual abuse—where people are denied the right to express their spirituality—damage to property and reproductive control, which I have seen perpetrated by men on numerous occasions.
I applaud the government for its attempt—and it has been passed through the House of Representatives—to contemporise the definition of 'family violence' in the Family Law Act. I also applaud the steps taken to recognise domestic violence orders—or apprehended violence orders, as they are described in states other than Queensland—across the country. We need to get rid of the 'dingo fences' which prohibit courts from easily recognising domestic violence orders in the various states and territories of this country.
All men are responsible to make sure we do not turn a blind eye. This is a men's issue, not just a women's issue. It is a men's issue because men have the power to make changes as leaders and decision makers in their homes and their workplaces. It is a men's issue even though a minority of men are violent towards women. Men need to speak out and send a message. They need live to their lives so that violence against women is unacceptable and that message goes down through the generations. I commend the member for Fowler for this motion and I am proud to stand with him and other members of this place in a bipartisan way to protect women and children in our community. (Time expired)