I would like to start by acknowledging Natasha Stott Despoja, the Our Watch board members, the Leader of the Opposition and my many colleagues here tonight.
I am honoured to be representing the Prime Minister here tonight.
Women need to be safe in their communities, at home, online and in their workplaces.
Thank you to Our Watch for the contribution you make to making Australia a safer, better country for women and their children.
You’re a key partner for the Government – and sadly, your work is vitally important still.
Despite hundreds of millions of dollars in federal government funding in recent years, domestic, family and sexual violence in Australia remains alarmingly common.
Just last month, 11 women were killed violently at the hands of men. Three by their partners, four more by men known to them.
Australian police deal with a case of domestic violence every two minutes.
Thirty cases an hour – every hour – across Australia.
And they’re just the cases that police have been called too, which we know are the minority.
It’s shocking. It would be shocking anywhere. But all the more so in a country like Australia.
The Government is taking action.
Lifeline is funded to provide the DV-alert program to train workplaces in how to support victims of family violence.
There’s also the award-winning Stop It at the Start campaign, jointly funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to change the attitudes of our young people about respectful relationships and gender equality.
We have established the 1800-RESPECT phone line for free, 24-hour national online and telephone counselling and support services.
Thanks to Our Watch, we now have a national prevention framework.
And I thank you for your continuing contribution to our National Action Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.
We are consulting on our action plan to reduce violence against women. We are listening to our stakeholders and working with our state and territory colleagues.
The Government and Our Watch are also working together to change attitudes in the sporting community.
Sport is at the heart of so much of our culture and lifestyle, and coaches, media and sports clubs can play a big role in how women are viewed.
That’s why the Government has funded Our Watch to work with four sporting codes on gender equality and respectful relationships.
We’re also spending nearly $30 million to make community sports clubs accessible and safe for women and girls.
And over $2 million for the Women Leaders in Sport program to support women as coaches, officials, administrators, captains and mentors.
Beyond the scars, beyond the fear, beyond the humiliation, we know that domestic and family violence also deeply wounds women’s economic security.
Family violence is one of the main reasons for women seeking homelessness services for themselves and their children.
As announced just last week in the Women’s Economic Security Statement, our Government will help women who are leaving abusive relationships to get the help they need to build their financial security.
We will continue to fund Specialist Domestic Violence Units and Health Justice Partnerships, and extend funding to include financial counselling.
Based on stakeholder feedback, we will extend early access to superannuation beyond terminal illness and severe financial hardship to include those experiencing family and domestic violence.
And we’ll provide funding to Good Shepherd Microfinance to provide no interest loans to help 45,000 women experiencing family and domestic violence access finance when they most need it, without high interest. The loans can be spent on things like relocation, essential household items and rental bonds.
The Government will provide funding to Legal Aid Commissions to support changes to family law that will ban cross-examination in certain cases where women escaping family violence fear cross-examination by their ex-partner.
These common sense changes will make a real difference to many women.
There’s no single solution to family violence.
We need a mix of practical assistance and programs to change attitudes and behaviours.
Thank you Natasha and the Our Watch board, staff, patrons and ambassadors for your support and for the work you do to change attitudes and improve lives.
We owe it to the women and children of this country to keep working together and I look forward to continuing our productive partnership.