Address IDEVAW, Senate | Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Minister for Women
Mr. President, as we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I would like to take a moment to remember and pay tribute to the women and children who are victims and survivors of violence.
There are the names and faces that we know.
However, there are many, many more who have endured for many years great pain in the shadows and in silence.
Violence against women and children is never acceptable.
It is a global problem that affects everyone, everywhere.
Too many women and children are not safe at home, at work, at school or online.
We know that gender inequality is at the root of violence against women and we need to work across our society, including with men and boys, to change social norms, attitudes and behaviors to eliminate gender inequalities.
Globally, statistics tell us that one in three women aged 15 or over has experienced sexual or physical violence and in Australia we know the numbers recorded in the motion.
Statistics, however, cannot tell us the real stories of the pain, fear, anguish and suffering that lead to the derivation of such numbers. And it must stop.
We know that the COVID 19 pandemic has also impacted progress on gender equality here and around the world, both in terms of women’s economic empowerment and women’s safety.
During the pandemic, violence against women and girls has increased.
The physical distancing, the confinements, have for many, made it more difficult to find and obtain help.
During this pandemic, the government has provided very important levels of resources for the safety of Australian women. And then provided additional resources on economic security, health and well-being and to help women reach their full potential.
In our 2021-2022 Women’s Budget Statement, we invested a record $ 1.1 billion in women’s safety.
In part, in partnership with states and territories, as it included $ 260 million for new national partnership agreements with state and territory jurisdictions to increase the capacity of frontline support and crisis services.
We are currently developing the next National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children as a blueprint for ending violence in all its forms.
Minister Ruston and I continue to work with state and territory governments to drive this change in women’s security through the National Council of Reform of the Federation’s Women’s Security Working Group.
The next national plan is a key part of this work.
The first national plan was formed in a non-partisan fashion through this parliament and the work of governments and oppositions here, and with states and territories.
Changing the dial of violence requires a national effort by all governments. Indeed, I would say, all parliaments, workplaces, schools, communities and individuals.
The government is committed to ensuring that Australian workplaces are safe and free from sexual harassment.
We commissioned the Respect at Work report.
And the Roadmap for Government Respect responds to the recommendations of the Respect at Work report.
We have committed over $ 66 million in the last two budgets for the implementation of the road map.
As I have said before, here and elsewhere a number of events this year have been unsettling and distressing, not just for me, not just for the people here, but for many Australians.
But especially to those who have suffered.
Stories of violence against women and children are always hard to hear. But we must listen, especially the surviving victims, to inform our way forward.
I think in our work in particular very few of us would, after a period of time as elected officials, be in a position where we haven’t from someone somewhere, heard their own troubling experience or that of a family member or friend.
Too many stories.
On this day, I would also like to invite us to consider the significant challenges in our own region, which has some of the highest rates of intimate partner violence in the world.
And some of the most horrible stories I have ever heard in my life.
68% of women in the Pacific and 40% of women in Southeast Asia had experienced violence from an intimate partner before the pandemic.
Tackling gender-based violence is a key priority for Australia’s aid and humanitarian programs.
We have provided UN Women with funding of $ 10 million to support essential services to survivors and to implement prevention activities.
We are also contributing to the United Nations Population Fund to conduct studies on combating violence against women.
We are working alongside, for example, the government of Timor-Leste through the Nabilan program on prevention activities to stop violence before it starts.
This is an area in which I have had some association since the election for the independence of Timor-Leste in 1999, where these problems were widespread, disturbing and a significant challenge for these Pacific communities.
Australia supports 15 crisis centers in eight countries, providing safe accommodation, medical and legal advice and support.
Australia joined the UK last week and I salute the work of my friend and colleague Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in condemning the use of sexual violence and rape as weapons of war.
And we strongly support the important work of the United Nations Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Now more than ever, we must come together to address and prevent gender-based violence in Australia and around the world.
This year and every year, we remember those we have lost, the surviving victims and those working to end violence against women and girls, especially those on the front lines.