Opinion Pieces

We need to give family violence the spotlight it requires.

11 June 2014

The statistics are alarming: one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and almost one in five have experienced sexual violence.

Right now there are men beating their wives or girlfriends in Benalla. That is the horrible, unvarnished truth and it’s one we cannot ignore.

We know what is needed: abused women and their children must have access to secure accommodation; the legal system must be accessible; and the community sector must be supported to ensure women who are in abusive relationships can get out.

Last month, the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition announced a further $30 million for measures that work towards those aims and strengthen the state’s response to family violence.

Spending to prevent violence and support women and children who are victims of family violence is now more than $100 million each year, an increase of more than 40 per cent since we came to government.

This funding supports tangible measures like crisis housing and the Centre Against Violence, which provides counseling and help to victims of family violence in Benalla.

The Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition has also recruited an additional 1500 police officers as part of our commitment to deliver 1700 new police in our first term.  

Additional numbers on the frontline has enabled the police force to strengthen its response and has seen an increase in the reporting of family violence.

But family violence is not just a government problem or a police problem. Addressing it requires cultural and attitudinal change.

As a community we need to reinforce the message around our sporting clubs, community groups and in our own homes that gender inequality, inappropriate jokes and sexist comments are not okay.

They are, in fact, part of a continuum that leads to bruises, broken bones and sometimes death.

My commitment is to join those voices who are speaking out and taking a stand against such behaviour. We need to let it be known that family violence won’t be tolerated in our community.

This opinion piece was first published in The Benalla Ensign.

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