Address by Chair of the Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children - 23 July 2013

Office for WomenWomens SafetyCOAG Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence Against Women and Their Children
Tuesday, 23 July 2013
Publication author(s):
Ken Lay
Publication abstract:

An address by Ken Lay, the Chair of the Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children.

It has been my privilege as Chair of the Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children to present our preliminary advice to COAG today. I am supported by deputy chairs, Ms Heather Nancarrow and Ms Rosie Batty.

The Panel is pleased that COAG has given violence against women national priority.

We look forward to working with the Prime Minister and state and territory premiers to drive change in the areas we can have the greatest collective impact because violence against women and their children demands a national response.

The statistics are alarming.

But what is of deeper concern is that behind every number, statistic, or data set is a personal story of devastation and despair for individuals, their families and the communities in which they live.

What does the picture tell us? In 2010-12, 83 women were killed by a current or former partner. One in six women over the age of 15 will experience physical or sexual abuse from a partner or former partner. These figures are higher for Indigenous women, women with disabilities and women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

These statistics are totally unacceptable and a situation we cannot allow to continue. Breaking the pattern of violence is a responsibility that lies with everyone.

It is vital we increase community understanding of the prevalence of this violence and the factors that lead to it. We need engagement across Australian society to ensure we can reduce these frightening figures.

There are also significant social costs beyond the harm caused to women and children – violence against women costs the Australian economy $13.6 billion each and every year. This cost is rising, with estimates that the total economic cost to Australia will reach $15.6 billion by 2021-22.

We must challenge elements of our culture that support or tolerate violence against women and their children.

There is some concerning evidence emerging about the attitudes of young people towards violence. One in four young men believe that controlling and violent behaviours are signs of male strength. We must address this. The Panel supports a national campaign that is focussed on galvanising the community to support young people to change their attitudes towards violence and abuse.

As a Panel our focus is on providing innovative, practical and deliverable proposals to COAG to help focus the national effort on areas to make a real and sustainable difference to reduce violence against women and their children.

As a Panel of 11 expert members, we bring together diverse perspectives and knowledge. There have been robust discussions around the table, which have been fundamental to developing our preliminary advice.

Based on these discussions we have asked COAG to:

  1. Roll out ongoing education programmes in schools across Australia, informed by quality resources for teachers, students and parents. Education will be a way to reinforce the national campaign messages, and help trigger long term change starting with young people.
  2. Consider trialling innovative uses of technology to keep women safe, prevent perpetrators from reoffending and better inform women about the risks of technology.

Ensuring our systems and laws in our different jurisdictions work together to support women and their children who are the victims of domestic, family and sexual violence is critical.

There are many outstanding services for women across Australia – but the need is greater than these services can handle. It needs to be a Safety First approach – we must put women's safety at the forefront of our response.

The Panel is exploring an ambitious programme of work over the next year that will investigate innovative approaches across Australia that showcase effective practices, take forward reform and break down cross-programme silos.

We will review front line service responses, and consider how to better align Commonwealth and state resources, and integrate where possible.

The Panel also recognises that we need to gain a better understanding of what works to stop perpetrators continuing their violence. It is essential that we strengthen the evidence base in this area to ensure the programmes we fund deliver the results we all want – a significant and sustained reduction in violence against women and their children.

We look forward to continuing this very important conversation.

We will be talking widely to governments, business, experts and the service sector to help inform the national approach.

Ken Lay

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