Monday, 21 November 2011
Private Members' Business
White Ribbon Day
I rise to support the motion moved by the member for Fowler to acknowledge White Ribbon Day and to condemn violence against women, particularly domestic violence. This notion of White Ribbon Day has its origins in a massacre in Montreal in 1989 at a university, when 14 women lost their lives. The statistics in Australia about violence against women are quite alarming. One in three women over the age of 15 experiences some form of physical or sexual violence. But the truth is that this is not just a statistic. Each one of those females is a person whose life will be forever changed by the emotional and physical trauma that they suffer in what is often male-dominated violence.
For me, this issue was brought home, when I was a much younger person, through the movies—in particular, the New Zealand movie Once Were Warriors. It was based on a novel by Alan Duff and showed very graphically a level of horrific domestic violence in a Maori family. I remember leaving that film and just being shaken to the core. I and the person with whom I had gone to see the film had to go and have a coffee to talk about the issue because it actually challenged us in a way in which I had never been challenged before. There was another movie, called The Bandit Queen. It was an Indian movie about a lady called Phoolan Devi, who was repeatedly gang raped and suffered severe trauma and violence because of her place in a lower caste in the caste system. Those two movies, for me, had a very dramatic effect on my understanding of the level of violence perpetrated against women overseas, but I know violence is also perpetrated against women in our own country.
So governments must do everything they can. The Bsafe pilot scheme is one that we would like to see continued. It allows women who can be subject to domestic violence to alert authorities through a buzzer. Law enforcement agencies must do everything that they can. That is why I welcome the comments of the new commissioner of police in Victoria on this matter. But it is up to individuals, particularly men, to take the oath to commit themselves to ensuring that they never commit domestic violence or violence against women and that they do not excuse or remain silent in the face of violence against women.
What we need in our community is leadership. We need greater knowledge and understanding of this issue, because it is not about statistics—it is about individuals; it is about people. And it is not just about one event or one night of crime or violence; it is about what it does to that person for the rest of their life, affecting their capacity to be a mother or a daughter or a sister or a niece or a wife, because once they have been subject to violence they lose their confidence; they change their outlook. And that is something that they should never be subject to.
So I commend the member for Fowler for this motion. I think it is extremely important that every member of this parliament, male and female, acknowledges the situation as it currently stands—that one in three females over the age of 15 is subject to some form of physical or sexual violence in their lives. It is important that we redouble our efforts and that, where possible, we use leading personalities in the community to educate, and that we reach across the age divide and the partisan divide and the divide between men and women to ensure that we do everything we can to eliminate violence against women in our community, because it is totally unacceptable.
Sitting suspended from 13:19 to 16:00