Can Australia End Violence Against Women And Their Children In A Generation?

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Content warning: This article and video discusses domestic, family and sexual violence 

The federal Labour government has just revealed its next ten-year National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children, delivering on one of its promised key national policy during the election campaign.

The plan comes with an ambitious goal and a world first: to end violence against women and their children within a generation. And for Australia to ultimately become a country “free of gender-based violence”.

It’s a huge moment, and many are welcoming the plan, as violence against women continues to devastatingly play out every single day across the country.

As reported in the new report, on average, a woman in Australia is killed by an intimate partner every 10 days.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised because of violence than non Indigenous women.

And people with disability are nearly twice at risk of experiencing types of violence in comparison to people without disability.

Violence against women and children is also “the leading driver of homelessness and incarceration for women” and costs the economy roughly $26 billion each year. Victim-survivors bear 50% of that cost. Like the plan stresses, these are not just statistics but “represent the stories of real people, and everyday realities”.

But violence against women and children is not inevitable. The plan calls for the rest of Australia to stand with victim-survivors, in its opening statement from victim-survivor themselves, and to see “what is happening around you everyday, from the sexist comment or homophobic joke, to the excuse ‘boys will be boys’”.

Developed and agreed on by the Federal, State and Territory ministers, the plan details prevention, early intervention, response and recovery and healing as the steps to achieving a generational result, with a particular focus on working with men and boys.

It calls on the media, schools, educational and sporting institutions to address gender equality and work to end disrespect towards women, with the 55 recommendations from the Respect@Work report that was delivered in 2020, to play a role.

There is a much needed inclusion of trans women.

There is a call out to the justice system to continue supporting victim-survivors and to ensure there are more survivor-centred justice responses.

Associate Professor of Criminology and Justice Anastasia Powell however points out that the challenges faced in the Federal Court and family law in responding to domestic, family and sexual violence in the context of parenting matters, isn’t really mentioned and falls short.

And in a standalone, a First Nations Plan will be developed to address the high rates of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.

Our last national plan to end violence against women and their children was between 2010 and 2022 and launched by then-prime minister Julia Gillard. Our Watch, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), and the 1800RESPECT helpline were all incredible initiatives and organisations established from the plan.

Moving forward, there are concerns around whether the forthcoming federal budget will commit to funding the ambitious plan, especially if the aim is to end gendered violence in a generation.

Right now, it is unclear whether the commitments made under the previous government and during the election campaign will come through.

If this video has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. In immediate danger, call 000.