Every member of the Australian community has a societal responsibility to do their part to end gender-based violence. In order to stamp out the epidemic of violence against women in Australia we must first recognize that this problem exists and that it is a systemic crisis embedded in the attitudes of our community regarding the power of women and their role in our society.
The attitudes that lead to gendered violence need to be tackled at their most fundamental level to best address the consequences that are affecting Australian women. Many of these toxic and harmful attitudes towards women are born from sexual discrimination long ingrained in our society.
Women all over Australia are continuing to experience sex discrimination to such a degree that inequality, sexual harassment and discrimination are still a prevalent and real concern in many of their lives. The federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 seek to address the unfair treatment of women who continue to be discriminated on the basis of their sex. It is now illegal to discriminate against women for their marital status, physical attributes, family responsibilities or personal decisions such as breastfeeding.
Sadly, many women are not safe from gendered violence in their own homes, and much violence against women falls under the multi-faceted umbrella of family violence. In 2019-2022 the Australian Institute of Criminology conducted a statistical report regarding Homicide in Australiaand produced the chilling statistic that on average in Australia a woman is killed by her intimate partner every ten (10) days.
The definition of family violence has expanded to include:
- Physical abuse;
- Sexual abuse;
- Psychological or emotional abuse; and
- Financial abuse.
It is important that these definitions continue to develop and become universally adopted across the whole of Australia so that the responses to family violence Australia may be consistent and easily relied upon by those in need.
On 17 October 2022 the Australian Government released the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032.
This plan spans over the next ten (10) years and provides a framework for guiding actions to address the epidemic of violence against women in a single generation. The plan includes increasing the female workforce, strengthening data collection systems, increasing accountability for people who use violence, providing a safe environment where women feel comfortable to report sexual violence and providing holistic responses to support the recovery and healing of victims.
The National Plan plans to meet their goal by addressing the following domains:
- Prevention – addressing the underlying social driver;
- Early Intervention – Identifying and supporting victims early
- Response – Service and Supports including police intervention
- Recovery and Healing – supporting victim-survivors recover
This Plan is a welcomed step in the right direction for women. It is important to note however that the implementation of this Plan will require significant funding from both State and Federal governments in order for the access to these resources to be realized.