National plan to end domestic and sexual violence against women and children

An ambitious national plan to end domestic and sexual violence within one generation includes a focus on achieving gender equality, as well as the importance of engaging men and boys.

The federal government will release the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022–2032 on Monday, with victim-survivors, experts, frontline services, states and territories all contributing to the plan.

One woman dies every 10 days in Australia at the hands of their former or current partner.

One in three women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15, and one in five has experienced sexual violence.

The federal government said the level of violence in Australia was a “national disgrace”, while Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre director Kate Fitz-Gibbon described gender-based violence as a “national crisis”.

“This is world leading. It sets the ambition to create whole of system responses that not only support victim-survivors to survive but to thrive beyond their experience of violence,” Dr Fitz-Gibbon said.

“The voices of victim-survivors have been embedded into the plan’s development.

“It is essential that the commitment to valuing the expertise of lived experience continues over the life of the plan.”

The plan includes:

  • Advancing gender equality and addressing other forms of discrimination;
  • Changing attitudes to stop violence from happening before it starts through national prevention;
  • Effective early intervention;
  • Building the frontline sector workforce and ensuring support can be accessed everywhere;
  • Making sure tailored and culturally-safe support is accessible; and
  • The need for person-centred services and better co-ordination.

Actions to implement the plan will be outlined in two supporting five-year plans.

The federal government will also continue to work to deliver a stand-alone Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Plan.

In a powerful statement from victim-survivors within the 144-page document, they urge people not to shame them for what others had done to them.

“It is time to transform our pain into action,” they said.

“There can be no more excuses – that it is too hard, we don’t know what to do, it’s too complex.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to end the perpetration of violence against women and children, and all victims of gendered violence.

“Stand with us, do not look away when we show you our pain.

“See what is happening all around you everyday, from the sexist comment or homophobic joke, to the excuse ‘boys will be boys’.”

They also noted that many victim-survivors were being re-traumatised trying to engage with systems that were meant to protect them but failed.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the plan provided a clear blueprint for the next decade.

“We want to make these changes now so the next generation of women and children can live in a society free from violence,” she said.

“We need sustained and collective action across society. This includes providing better support and protection to victim-survivors and holding people who choose to use violence to account.”

Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said achieving gender equality was at the core of the government’s agenda.

“The Albanese government is addressing the root cause of gender-based violence by taking action to drive gender equality by delivering on our promise to develop a National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality,” she said.

“The strategy will map out how we address the structural barriers and inequalities that are a major driver behind gender-based violence.

“No amount of violence is acceptable and it is crucial that we talk honestly about some of the factors that contribute to violence against women and children, and what we will do to address some of the underlying causes.”

Senator Gallagher noted the government had already modernised Australia’s paid parental leave scheme and made childcare cheaper.

It is only the second time such a document has been released, with the previous plan released by the Gillard government.

Ms Rishworth will officially launch the plan at an event in Melbourne on Monday.

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