POLICE COMMISSIONERS STAND TOGETHER
PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA
MONDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2014
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Your Excellency, Prime Minister, Australia’s outstanding Ambassador for Women and Girls – Natasha Stott Despoja.
Police Commissioners of Australia and New Zealand.
It is an honour for all of us to be in this room, with this group, standing together against a problem we are all determined to solve.
Some issues in politics divide this building - but the determination to end family violence unites us all.
The Liberal Party supported the former Labor Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, and we are pleased to offer the same bipartisan support for the Second Action Plan launched in June this year.
All over Australia, important work is being done, and good progress is being made: especially in harmonising family violence prevention orders across our jurisdictions.
And, having met with a range of community leaders and advocates throughout this year, I am more optimistic than pessimistic.
I believe the momentum to make real and permanent change is within our grasp.
Both parties in the upcoming Victorian State Election have made tackling family violence a priority if elected.
And I congratulate the Newman Government for the special taskforce they have established in Queensland, headed by the remarkable Quentin Bryce –personal bias aside, a fantastic choice.
Today is about momentum-building too.
A collective statement, from law enforcement officers and law makers, standing together to eliminate the scourge of family violence – once and for all.
Friends, in her submission to the Senate Inquiry, Rosemary Batty, who tragically lost her son Luke earlier this year, asked:
Why is it that family violence is still so expected within our culture, and that we still maintain deep ambivalence to responding to violence in the home, violence predominantly targeting women and children?’
That’s the question she had to face, but it is a question we all have to face.
We can never be ambivalent about this - we can never accept or expect family violence.
We can never view family violence as an unfortunate inevitability, a fact of life outside of our control.
We can do better, we have to.
Frankly, there comes a time when raising awareness is not enough.
A time when cataloguing the problems will not suffice.
And friends, that time is here, that moment has come.
The moment when we turn our energies to eliminating the scourge of family violence, once and for all.
It is time for a no-tolerance approach.
Not just monitoring behaviour – or punishing it.
We cannot rely on our police to arrest their way out of this problem.
We need a national change of attitude - and that starts with men.
Until we change, nothing can change.
And unless we change, nothing will change.
Women have been talking about this problem for a very long time.
At the turn of the last century, women leaders of the temperance union sought prohibition, to protect women and children from alcohol-fuelled violence.
But family violence is not a women’s issue – it is a men’s problem.
It’s time for men to start talking to men, about family violence.
This is not about a certain type of offender from a particular class or ethnicity, nor indeed is it about ‘powerless’ women
Family violence can be perpetrated in any postcode, it can afflict any woman.
And until we change our attitudes, our behaviours, there will always be women turned away from shelters, there will be always be children who grow up thinking that violence against women is the way of the world.
And until all of us have no tolerance for family violence, there will always be lives lost, childhoods scarred, families torn apart and people looking for accommodation, driven from their homes.
So today, let us declare that one death, one injury, one night of shock and grief as the result of family violence is one too many.
I think this is a very good way for us to start the week in Parliament.
Let us commit to absolute and total success, in stopping family violence.
Let us make this a national political priority.
Let us promise this to each other – and let us deliver it with each other.
Let us vow not to stop until our goals are met, until our job is done, until family violence is no more.
Friends, I thank you for your presence here today – and I look forward to us working together in the years ahead.
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