Bill's Speeches

ADDRESS TO THE OUR WATCH RECEPTION - CANBERRA - TUESDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2018

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land upon which we meet, I pay my respects to their elders both past and present. 
 
I acknowledge all my colleagues here, including the Minister. 
 
I’m glad Our Watch is back here visiting Federal Parliament.
 
It is impressive that so many parliamentarians make the time to pay respect to this issue, to be here tonight. 
 
And I should say that Chloe, who is an Our Watch ambassador, sends her apologies. Yet again she is raising the family and I get to be up here.
 
I’ve been attending this event for five years as Opposition Leader and I reflect upon the progress that you have made in that time. 
 
I don't think there can be any doubt that people are starting to change the way we talk about violence against women, about family violence. And I don't just mean as parliamentarians but as people. 
 
We don’t metaphorically pull down the blinds and turn up the TV so we can't hear what's happening next door. We don't use polite euphemisms, we don’t change the subject or shuffle uncomfortably.
 
I believe it's changed in the way that journalists cover it, the way it's reported, I think it's changed in the way it gets policed. 
 
We’ve changed the way that we look at this issue, violence against women and family violence, as a society. 
 
We've perhaps taken off the blindfold and we look a bit more closely. We are, I believe, more often than not a nation who no longer turns the proverbial blind eye or deaf ear. 
 
We don't any longer choose to ignore violence against women because it happens in the family home, or dismiss it as just a ‘family matter’. 
 
This is good news. We should celebrate the good news. Real change in language, real change in attitudes.
 
Even to the point of unthinking and crude remarks, locker room talk, footy club talk, no longer allowed in our leaders or public figures. 
 
But for all of that, we can't escape a hard truth: as we’ve just heard, Australian women are dying at the hands of people who say they love them. The hands of their partners or ex-partners. 
 
Every week. Everywhere. 
 
It doesn't distinguish between postcode or ethnicity or wealth. 
 
But what I think about tonight, as we stand here, is what will be happening right now in homes across Australia. 
 
There will be Australian women who will have nowhere to go, nowhere safe, who will be torn between being safe or protecting the children.
 
I have no doubt that right now there will be mums and and kids looking at the clock, dad's not home yet, will he be all right? Will he have had too much to drink? Will he be angry? Will he fall asleep at the table - or will he take out whatever he has on us?
 
There will be signals in households where kids coming home later will know if the light is on or off, or if a bag is moved on the veranda, is dad in a good mood or is he in a bad mood.
 
There will be children tonight who will turn up the music in their rooms as they try and do their homework so they don't hear the yelling. So they don't hear their mum bearing the wrath of the father so that the mother can protect the kids. 
 
Too little has changed for too many too many of our families.
 
So tonight it is great that we are here. I just wish we could wrap our collective arms around all of those people I just described, because there'll be many more people experiencing that, than this. 
 
I have to say though, that when Our Watch comes to Parliament, you lift us out of the day-to-day.
 
Instead, you ask us, you challenge us, and you force us to think: what sort of Australia do we want to be? 
 
This is how Labor sees the issue of family violence: it is a test of our national character. 
 
We’ve been pushing the policy debate.

We are arguing strongly to enshrine family violence leave and national employment standards. Ten days paid leave.  

And for those who say that paid leave will incentivise people to claim it, I've never met a victim of family violence who would rather go through the violence just to get the leave. 

We have pushed for five years, and I am pleased that the government has agreed on this, banning unrepresented violent perpetrators from the ability to cross-examine the partners they’ve already injured. 

And we will keep pushing for better support for safe accommodation.

That's why if we are elected as the next government Labor will develop and deliver a new ten year plan, a national plan to prevent violence against women and children.
 
We will establish a national plan advisory group: survivors, advocates, experts, counsellors, community lawyers. The people who’ve seen the faults in the system from the inside. The people who know what is needed and where. 

And we will continue to prioritise more dollars and more resources into prevention efforts and frontline services.

Because when it comes to violence against women and family violence, more money does make a difference.

So tonight, I am pleased to announce that if elected, a Labor Government will commit an additional $18 million to the Keeping Women Safe in their Homes program, so it can continue up to 2022.

This is a program which helps women experiencing family violence to stay in their own home with expert safety assessments, new locks on the doors, new alarms, safety phones and the like.

Why should it be that the violent perpetrator is rewarded with the home and the victim has to leave? 
 
Why should it be the person fleeing the violence who has got to pick up the pieces? To find somewhere new to stay, sort out the arrangements, the collection of the kids, work out what they can do with their work. Such a burden, such an injury upon injury.
 
Reversing this unfair balance of power is an initiative that is worth persevering with and it is worth committing to now. Because why should we ask the frontline workers to be unsure if their funding will be there next year?

I want the frontline staff of Australia who work protecting women and kids not to have to worry about do they get paid at the end of the month, but to be able to keep contributing that remarkable, emotional, physical, intellectual effort just to support Australian women.

Labor will make sure the funding is going to be there to carry on.

In this place a lot of promises are made. That's what we do, we make promises. 

One reason why I am confident that this promise can be kept is because, if we are elected as a government, not only will my Deputy be Tanya Plibersek but we will have 50 percent of our MPs who will be women and they are just not going to allow anything less than this to be the case.

I want to thank Our Watch for the advocacy, the leadership, the passion, the evidence.

Let's hope that every year when you return to parliament we have more change and better progress to celebrate.

And let's spare a thought, as I know we all will, for those women and children tonight for whom our help has not yet arrived.
 
Thank you very much. 
 
ENDS


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