It was encouraging to see so many people at Federation Square for safe steps’ Candlelight Vigil, which I hosted.
Family violence effects women and children of all ages and ethnicities, from all cultural and social backgrounds and demographics, and has resulted in more than 35 deaths in Australia in just the past year, making it the most prevalent type of violence against all women in this country.
And the scary thing is that, despite the 2016 Royal Commission into Family Violence, and the Government’s commitment to action its recommendations, the number of women and children impacted by family violence is increasing. Three years ago, the safe steps24/7 phone service received approximately 55,000 calls. That number is shocking enough, but it’s even more shocking to discover that last financial year safe steps received 91,057 calls!
Almost half of those calls come from women who required immediate protection – meaning they had recently experienced serious acts of violence and were at high risk of serious injury or death.
safe steps is currently receiving more than 300 calls a day from Australian women and children who need their help, which translates to (a projected) 100,000 calls expected this year.
To quote safe steps CEO Annette Gillespie, what makes this number unbearable “is that every call represents a woman who has reached the absolute limit of what she can take.A woman who in sheer desperation for the safety and security of herself and often her children, knows she has no option but to make that call to get help to stop the violence.”
It’s time for change, and change starts with every one of us. Everyone has the right to be safe.
The dynamics of family violence are incredibly complex but at its heart, change means letting the world know that violence and disrespect to women – whatever its form – will not be tolerated.
Commit to ending family violence and the gender inequality that fuels it by:
- Calling out and condemn violent behaviour when you witness it.
- Speaking out against ingrained gender inequality, sexist attitudes and victim blaming.
- Ask a friend, family member, or colleague if they are okay.
With the advent of the #metoo movement, change has begun. The challenge now is to make sure we maintain momentum.