CENTRAL Victorian advocates hope this week's National Women's Safety Summit will allow difficult conversations to be started and steps taken in developing the next national plan to end gender-based violence.
The two-day summit began on Monday and was initially supposed to bring together hundreds of women's advocates, community leaders, organisations and experts in Canberra.
However, due to coronavirus restrictions and ongoing lockdowns, the summit has taken place virtually.
Bendigo's Centre for Non-Violence programs and services executive manager Yvette Jaczina said the summit was critical for all women and children across the country.
"It's a really important opportunity to have women's voices heard and to focus on the issue of women's and children's safety," she said.
"We will see as the events unfold in the coming months on how really important it is for the government.
"The program is over two days but it isn't a huge opportunity to focus on rural and regional women's experience but there is certainly a focus on the experience of violence in Aboriginal communities and that is really important.
"We really need to ensure we are hearing the voices of Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal women in particular."
More than 300 people were invited to the two-day conference.
Discussions included a focus on sexual violence, coercive control, financial and technology-facilitated abuse, sexual harassment at work, perpetrator interventions and violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Speakers included Australian of the Year Grace Tame, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar and eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman also addressed the conference.
Ms Jaczina said although the summit was a positive step forward, many of the issues raised had been prominent for many years, with little changing.
"The rates of violence against women continue to grow in Australia and we need to get to the prevention work around gender equality and that would make a really big difference," she said.
"It is another step in the journey and the federal government has being forward to listen with the voices of women becoming very loud as a result of the violence of women in the national parliament."
Ms Jaczina said she hoped the summit would result in seeing funding announced for long-term prevention programs, specialist services and increased awareness for family violence in the regions.
"I am hopeful this gives a platform to continue to listen to the experts in the space that know what is needed," she said.
The rates of violence against women continue to grow in Australia and we need to get to the prevention work around gender equality and that would make a really big difference.Centre for Non-Violence programs and services executive manager Yvette Jaczina
Attending the summit, Australian Local Government Association president Linda Scott called for dedicated domestic and family violence prevention officers in every state and territory local government association.
Cr Scott said this would assist local government to maximise its capacity to contribute to the prevention of domestic violence through targeted, ongoing support to councils across the country.
Cr Scott said local government's willingness to play a bigger role in the prevention of violence against women was recognised by a federal parliamentary inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence last year.
She said this inquiry recommended the state and commonwealth co-fund dedicated family and domestic violence policy officers on a 50-50 basis to empower councils to prevent violence against women.
It also recommended that the federal, state and territory governments directly involve local governments in the development and implementation of Australia's next national plan to reduce violence against women and their children.
Cr Scott said preventing domestic and family violence meant changing attitudes, practices.
The CNV has joined Fair Agenda and more than 200 organisations calling for 12 key actions that need to form the foundation of plan.
People can read more about the 12 Things here.
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