This is an edited version of the speech given by Jackie Kriz, the president of Geelong Trades Hall Council, at the Geelong Reclaim the Night rally on October 31. * * * I would like to thank the women of Reclaim the Night collective who, with support from Geelong Trades Hall, have worked tirelessly for months to organise this rally.
Domestic violence — or intimate partner violence — represents an increasingly visible crisis in Australia today. Yet policy makers and opinion shapers continue to deny that the system, which profits from sexism and misogyny, is responsible for perpetrating it. Instead, they blame individuals. This year, two women have been killed every week — double the rate compared to 2014. One in four women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. For women aged between 15 and 44 years' old, domestic violence is the leading cause of death, illness and disability.
Three separate domestic violence deaths just days apart in south-east Queensland have prompted Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to fast-track the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence. The deaths of a child and two women between September 7 and 10 occurred less than a month after the government published its response to the Task Force’s report, Not now, not ever: Putting an end to domestic and family violence in Queensland.
One in three women is a victim of domestic violence. I am one of those. The violence did not happen until I was pregnant and, as a result, vulnerable. I did not report it to the police as I was too scared: it was carried out in the privacy of our flat; there was no obvious injury and he was very contrite afterwards. I vividly remember him buying me breakfast at a cafe the next morning, an unusual event, while I sat too traumatised and depressed to say anything. Before that, I had never suffered a physical assault from anyone.
The NSW Coalition blocked a Greens’ motion in the upper house on August 12 calling for long-term funding for violence prevention and specialist services. Funding for women’s refuges across NSW has been cut and the services tendered out to charities, including religious ones. The motion acknowledged that: · domestic and family violence is the leading cause of death and injury in women under 45; · this year, violence against women at the hands of someone they were involved with or knew, has claimed the lives of 34 women across Australia;
We are experiencing a crisis of domestic violence in Australia, but not in the sense that it has unexpectedly arrived. In fact, there has always been a domestic violence crisis in Australia. It is a preventable epidemic that has been allowed to flourish in our communities through silence, neglect, a culture that promotes male power and violence and a failure by those in power to act.
In January this year, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott drew attention to the “unfolding tragedy” of violence against women and vowed to put the issue of what he misleadingly calls “domestic violence” on the national agenda.
The Tony Abbott government’s moves to introduce the Healthy Welfare Card – income management on steroids – indicate that it remains committed to a welfare system based on deterrence and punishment. Once again, the government refuses to acknowledge years of negative data about the policy and its consistent failure to benefit those it will be forced upon.
Former Governor-General Quentin Bryce, who chaired the Special Task force on Domestic and Family Violence, handed the report Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on February 28. The task force was established on September 10 last year by the previous LNP government and charged to deliver its findings by February 28. It included several now-former MPs.
Every week, on average, in Australia, more than one woman is murdered by her present or former partner. Family violence is now the leading cause of death and injury for women under 45, and a staggering one-in-three women experience violence by a former or present intimate partner. On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 24 last year, Telstra announced the introduction of an employment policy that provides for 10 days paid domestic violence leave each year for its employees.