Bill's Transcripts

ADDRESS TO MEDIA STAND UP AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

ADDRESS TO MEDIA STAND UP AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

 

MAIN COMMITTEE ROOM, PARLIAMENT HOUSE

 

TUESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2015

 

Good morning everyone.

 

Family violence, violence against women, is all about power.

It is about power and it is about gender.

Family violence does not respect geography.

It’s not about alcohol or drug abuse. It’s not caused by that.

It is not caused poverty, it is not caused by ethnicity or religion.

It occurs principally when men assault, hurt and even murder women.

It is a terrible crime – it is carried out by people who say that they once loved someone and are now in a position where they are hurting someone.

But it is caused fundamentally by an imbalance in our society. An imbalance of power.

So long as women are denied equality, then we will still have family violence.

I too want to thank Senator Michaela Cash for organising today. For allowing people to talk about this issue.

Family violence is a national issue, it belongs at the centre of Australian political debate. It belongs at the centre of our media coverage.

All of us – Labor, Liberal, Nationals and Green should constantly be debating and testing the best approaches to resolving family violence  - to eliminating it, even while we share the goal of preventing it.

I think it is right for the media to ask us about our policies, about our commitment to funding, to scrutinise and subject them to these tests.

We could, and the media could,  make this a country where the party with the best family violence policies becomes the party who helps form a government.

And politics should compete in a healthy way about the best ideas to go forward.

There is a lot of good work that can be done by the parliament, to support people on the frontline.

There’s community legal services, refuges and service providers who do a lot of amazing work, with scarce resources – I think they do deserve a better bipartisan commitment to a better deal.

But I think that the biggest, most important change won’t just be coming from this building alone.

It depends, this change, on millions of conversations between men.

Fathers and sons, teachers and students, teammates, colleagues and family.

When men are telling other men, that there is never an excuse, there’s never a justification for violence against women, then Australia will be making progress.

Now, we don’t any longer turn up the television or pull down the blinds when we hear the angry yelling and screams next door.

We don’t any longer, I hope, say ‘oh, that’s a family matter – I shouldn’t get involved’.

We’re getting better at calling out the hateful sexism that underpins so much of family violence.

That’s why today’s event is so important.

What the media choose to say and report about family violence can make a big difference to how people feel about speaking up.

What we need to be very clear about, I think in the reporting is we shouldn’t always assume there are two sides to every story, that each are of equal weight and both deserving of equal respect.

Women deserve more than the lazy moral relativism which says: ‘there is his side and then there’s her side – that must be it and they must be of competing weights’.

I think we are right in our society to call out offensive and outdated attitudes to women and not call them ‘harmless fun’.

Respect for women isn’t something you can switch on for a particular event, or for one week a year.

It’s not something that can be ticked off in one news segment, or by printing one special lift-out.

I urge people to apply the principles developed for reporting developed by OurWatch, which strive for safety, upholding the dignity of survivors and the presentation of facts in news services.

We’ve seen parts of the media make important changes to their coverage, and I want to give a special mention to the Herald Sun for the work they have done on this.

Family violence is about gender, it is about power.

The media have the ability to show the way, to end the power imbalance in our society.

I think it is not too ambitious to hope that we can live in an Australia where family violence is not reported, because it doesn’t happen.

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053