MOTION: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Today, Mark spoke in support of the Motion calling on the Government to commit to do all that it can to address gender inequality, to empower women and girls and to prevent violence against women. 


That this council—

1. Notes that Sunday 25 November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women;

2. Notes the unacceptable, shocking and persistent prevalence of violence against women across the globe; and

3. Commits to do all that it can to address gender inequality, to empower women and girls and to prevent violence against women.

I rise to support this motion and to congratulate the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos for putting it on our Notice Paper. I note that it has been on the Notice Paper for a little while and, in fact, a second International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women has rolled around since this was first put on the agenda. But it is still a topical motion.

What I want to do very briefly is to put on the record some information about the White Ribbon movement because it has received a fair bit of publicity, some of it adverse, but I think there are some positive signs as well. The reason I mention that is that, whilst the official day is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, it is often referred to as White Ribbon Day, not that White Ribbon is the only charity that works in this space, it is just one that has attracted a lot of attention and a lot of support.

Back in October, those of us who are White Ribbon Ambassadors or supporters or advocates received a media release that told us that the White Ribbon Australia organisation had gone into receivership. I think it was a classic case of a well-meaning charity overreaching. There were some issues with their financial governance and, as a result, they basically ran out of money.

I think the point to note is a point that is made by Grant Pearson, who is the White Ribbon South Australia State Committee chairperson, and also made by Gillian Lewis and Cintra Amos, who are the indefatigable organisers of the Adelaide White Ribbon Breakfast Committee. They point out that the South Australian Breakfast Committee was organising White Ribbon breakfasts long before White Ribbon Australia even existed. So it was a grassroots campaign that predated the formation of the national organisation. The White Ribbon breakfast is now in its 12th year and it has grown to become the largest White Ribbon breakfast in the world.

Interestingly, because of the media that was around the financial difficulties of White Ribbon Australia, a number of people assumed that that meant it was all over and that the breakfast would not happen anymore, programs would be cancelled, but nothing could be further from the truth. This year's breakfast was as good as ever. Over 1,000 people attended, many Members of Parliament as usual, with a very inspiring panel discussion with leaders from various sporting codes explaining what they are doing within their codes to address the issue of violence against women and other gender issues.

The liquidators of White Ribbon Australia, Worrells Solvency and Forensic Accountants, put out a statement a week ago saying that they were pleased to announce that they had entered into an agreement so that White Ribbon Australia will be taken over by Communicare Inc. I had not heard of Communicare Inc. It is a Western Australian-based organisation. It started in 1977. It was an initiative of local churches in Western Australia and since then they have gone on to become a major provider of family and domestic violence services in Western Australia for more than 20 years.

Just the other day, in fact on Monday, in the online journal Pro Bono News—I do not know if anyone else subscribes to it but it is a very useful publication—they pointed out that the transfer of White Ribbon's assets to Communicare happened the day before White Ribbon Day. It shows that there is in fact a great future for this particular organisation that focuses on men taking a leadership role in combatting violence against women. I will quote a couple of sentences from Communicare CEO, Melissa Perry, who said:

White Ribbon Australia aligns with our values and reflects our long­standing commitment to eliminating violence against women…

As a White Ribbon accredited organisation and school, we've seen first­hand how accreditation provides tools to strengthen a culture of respect, accountability and gender equality at all levels of the organisation.

According to Pro Bono News:

Communicare has operated for over 20 years in the family and domestic violence space and pioneered the first residential men’s behaviour change program in the southern hemisphere, offering an alternative to removing women and children from their family home.

I, for one, am quite excited that this organisation still has a very bright future, as it is, under new management. The CEO concludes with:

We need to be engaging boys and men in this conversation...we need more men and boys talking about this to other men and boys.

That has been at the heart of the White Ribbon message. I am delighted that White Ribbon lives to continue its important campaign work.

I congratulate the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos for putting this issue on the agenda. I believe that all of us in State Parliament need to commit, as the motion says, to do what we can to address gender inequality, to empower women and girls, and to prevent violence against women.