PREVENTION will continue to be the government's key focus in reducing violence against women and children.
The Council of Australian Governments launched the fourth and final action plan of the Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 national plan.
The final stage addresses gender inequality, increasing the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and providing evidence-based responses to end the cycle of violence.
It follows the first stages of the plan, which established Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety, respectful relationship projects in schools, and improved data and analysis of violence against women.
Our Watch was also established as the national organisation to drive change in the practices that lead to family violence. The organisation's chief executive Patty Kinnersly said the Fourth Action Plan acknowledged "women will never be safe unless they are equal".
"It's imperative that we stop violence before it starts," she said. "The continued focus on primary prevention is welcome, as is the commitment from all governments to promoting gender equality as the key to ending violence against women."
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows one in three Australian women experience physical violence, while one in five experience sexual violence.
One in six women also experience physical and/or sexual violence by a current or previous co-habitating partner.
As part of the Fourth Action Plan, the federal government committed $20.9 million to Our Watch over three years.
Ms Kinnersly said the funds would help the organisation deliver programs, social marketing campaigns, and Australia's first primary prevention hub.
"This Action Plan helps deliver on the National Plan's commitment to work across prevention, early intervention and response to end violence against women," she said.
"A holistic approach across the sector enables the delivery of vital support services now, while simultaneously advancing primary prevention work to drive long term nationwide change."
Women's Health Loddon Mallee chief executive Tricia Currie said the focus on prevention in the final stage of the national plan was an "an investment in the change we need to make".
"Government doesn't do this alone," she said. "There will be a significant amount of money that will go to Our Watch, which means it will go towards better understanding how to prevent violence against women."
Ms Currie said it was important for the government look at ongoing investment in preventing violence against women beyond the final part of the national plan.
She said in Greater Bendigo there was already a strong group of organisations pushing for gender equality as a means to reduce family violence.
"Women's Health Loddon Mallee has a regional action plan for the prevention of violence against women in the Loddon Mallee region," she said.
"We are refreshing that in the coming months to ensure that there is momentum across the region for a strategic, sustained effort to prevent violence against women and their children.
"Within our region, there is already the Greater Bendigo Coalition for Gender Equality.
"More broadly, in sporting clubs gender inequality is being addressed with everything from equitable use of facilities, to supporting and encouraging women to be active in sport.
"In our schools, there has been the respectful relationships program.
"This focus leads to different types of decision making and lets us deconstruct the barriers that exist for women to be fully realised."
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