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White Ribbon Day 2015

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day. This day also marks the start of the United Nations campaign, 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence against Women. Recognition of these events is particularly significant in 2015, as it is 20 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which outlined a global commitment to gender equality.

There has also been a renewed focus on preventing violence against women in Australia this year. Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, is a family violence campaigner, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged at a press conference on 24 September: ‘Disrespecting women does not always result in violence against women. But all violence against women begins with disrespecting women’.

These actions have added to a growing awareness of the violence faced by many Australian women. The Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) states that according to 2012 research, since the age of 15:

  • 1 in 6 Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner

  • 1 in 4 Australian women have experienced emotional abuse from a current or former partner.

A World Health Organisation international review highlights that violence against women is not inevitable. While the underlying causes of the violence are complex, there is general agreement that gender inequality, power imbalances and controlling behaviours within relationships are key determinants.

A variety of strategies have been employed to tackle gendered violence internationally, and efforts are being made to prevent violence against women in Australia. The Council of Australian Government is guiding change through the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. ANROWS is gathering evidence to inform policy and practice to reduce levels of violence, while the advocacy organisation Our Watch  is sharing stories to create changes in the attitudes and behaviours that lead to such violence.

In September 2015, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a Women’s Safety Package. This included funding for respectful relationships education, support lines, new technologies, and to support Indigenous women and women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The annual progress report on the Second Action Plan under the National Plan was released in June 2015, and stressed that ‘there is still a long way to go’ to achieve a ‘significant and sustained reduction in violence against women, including sexual assault’.

 Recognising the ongoing significance of this issue, the Parliamentary Library has published a new paper titled Domestic violence: issues and policy challenges which examines the extent of the problem, outlines solutions, current government responses, and what still needs to be done in Australia.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, visit ANROWS Get Support website or call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), the 24 hour, National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line. In an emergency, call 000.