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Emergency national cabinet meeting called on gender violence

Source: Minister for Women Katy Gallagher

An emergency meeting of Australia’s leaders has been called to tackle violence against women after crowds demanded action at weekend marches across the country.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he would hold a national cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

The announcement came after Albanese joined demonstrators in Canberra on Sunday alongside Minister for Women Katy Gallagher and Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth.

“We will talk about what we can do including as part of the national plan to end violence against women and children,” Albanese said.

 

National cabinet includes the prime minister and each state and territory premier or chief minister.

It comes after Albanese received a hostile reception at the end of the Canberra march when he, Gallagher and Rishworth were booed and jeered.

This included the crowd yelling “we want action”, “do your job” and “what are you even doing here?” after they failed to declare a national emergency to tackle the problem.

Albanese said the term “national emergency” carried legal connotations and was usually used to unlock funding and services for natural disaster responses.

He told the impassioned crowd that governments at all levels, including his own, needed to do better.

“We need to change the culture, we need to change attitudes – we need to change the legal system,” he said.

“It’s not enough to support victims.

“We need to focus on the perpetrators and focus on prevention.

“I know we must do better, but I know this as well… it’s not just government’s problem – it’s a problem of our entire society.”

 

At least 27 women have allegedly died by male violence so far in 2024, according to Destroy the Joint.

Event organiser Sarah Williams put the number at 32, including the five women killed in a stabbing attack at Bondi Junction that police said targeted women.

Rishworth said violence against women had “been a crisis for some time”. She said she hoped the renewed focus on the issue would catalyse change.

“What I hope is this national conversation will mean that there is sustained attention and sustained resolve across all areas of society, community, to say enough is enough,” she said.

A national plan that included early intervention and prevention programs with young men and boys who have experienced family and domestic violence to try to break the cycle of violence would take time to yield results, Rishworth said.

In all, there were 17 rallies across Australia at the weekend, including an estimated 15,000 people demonstrating in Melbourne, about 10,000 in Sydney and thousands more in Brisbane.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan said after attending the Melbourne march that Australian women had “enough of being sad and outraged and angry”.

“There were women at the march today, like me, who have been marching on this issue for decades and decades,” she said.

“We’ve had enough.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns and Queensland Premier Steven Miles also attended marches in their states.

David Pocock on violence against women

Source: X

‘Good guy’ myth called out

The alleged DV murder of Molly Ticehurst in central-west NSW has drawn attention to a crisis in regional Australia as rural men are urged to take a stand against violence.

Everyone knows a domestic violence perpetrator in a country town.

“He’s a ‘good guy’ – he serves your coffee, he cleans your clothes, he fixes your car when it’s broken,” solicitor Vanessa Vazquez told a rally calling for an end to violence against women in Orange.

“Just imagine how difficult it is for a woman to appeal to someone when you all think he’s a good guy?”

The complexities of ending violence against women are stark in regional Australia, where the rate of domestic and family abuse has long been higher than the cities.

The rate of domestic violence assault in the Orange region is 1.5 times the NSW average, according to recent figures from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

Further west, the rate is almost four times higher.

The death in Forbes of 28-year-old childcare worker Molly Ticehurst, allegedly at the hands of her former boyfriend Daniel Billings, has drawn national attention to the local crisis.

It came 10 months after Kristy Armstrong, 36, was killed when her former husband allegedly drove her car off the road at high speed in the village of Molong, 30 kilometres from Orange.

Ticehurst’s death also followed the alleged murders of Samantha Murphy, Rebecca Young and Hannah McGuire at the hands of men within two months in Ballarat, in regional Victoria.

Emma Bates, 49, was found dead at a property in Cobram, Victoria, the day after Ticehurst’s death.

They were among many women remembered at the rally in Orange on Sunday, with hundreds of locals joining the national protest movement to end gendered violence.

Vazquez founded a fundraising campaign Birds in the Bush four years ago after some residents opposed a women’s shelter being built in a new residential area. That stance illustrated the lingering stigma around domestic violence, she said.

“It disturbed me even though we know the stats … people couldn’t see the need for a refuge in our community,” she said.

The Orchard refuge, run by non-profit Housing Plus, opened despite the backlash and has supported 190 women since 2020.

Chief executive Justin Cantelo said the organisation relied solely on government and community support, but increased funding was needed to reach more women and children.

More funding would also continue its behaviour change program, which is reforming men who control or abuse their partners.

“It’s time for men to hold other men accountable,” Cantelo told the rally.

“Men’s violence against women is a national emergency requiring immediate action.”

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Jamie Newman also had an impassioned plea for men, asking them to look at the women and girls in their lives.

“They are at risk,” Newman said.

“We have to stand up – our wives, our daughters our sisters, our aunties, our cousins, our granddaughters are at risk.

“We cannot accept that women are unsafe.”

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-AAP

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