IF we have learnt anything in recent weeks, it is the job is not done for those working to prevent violence against women and children. Far from it.
When our country is experiencing an alarming increase in the number of women killed by men, (remember this, it is now more than one a week), there is much work to do.
Peak bodies for the prevention and response to family violence – Domestic Violence Victoria, Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault, No to Violence, and Gender Equity Victoria – have implored each of the major political parties to commit to funding and implement all of the recommendations that followed the state’s Royal Commission into Family Violence.
We need bipartisan support on this. Funding for prevention needs to be ongoing – but importantly, as we increase awareness and education, funding for services responding to those in crisis need more funding to meet the need.
Those working in prevention and response are over-worked and under-funded. They are working to address an issue all of us are responsible for changing. That work does not sit with front line services alone. It’s up to all of us.
We need to stop blaming the brave women who come forward to share their lived experiences, and start really listening. Listen to the common themes – those of power and control, and how they are not free to live their lives as equals. Men, you need to listen.
And it’s true that it's not all men, but there are many who would rather take this line and put their energy into arguing decades-long research, than effect positive change. And they’re contributing to the problem.
Don’t join the ‘it’s not all men’ chorus - listen to the women around you. They all have stories of the casual, everyday sexism that cultivates appalling attitudes about girls and women.
Call out sexist, controlling or abusive behaviour when you see it. Nothing will change until this starts happening.
Talk to your boys about respect - and model that. You won’t lose anything if you do – instead, the whole community benefits.
Our job is not done.
Nicole Ferrie, editor
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence or sexual assault, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 373 372.
For support with recent or past experiences of sexual assault or abuse, call LCCASA on 5441 0430 or the Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line after hours on 1800 806 292.