The release of the proposed National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children (2010 to 2022) is a positive move for all Australians. However, the most important step has yet to be taken – the incoming Federal Government must ensure that the plan is immediately delivered, with the cooperation of all State and Territory Governments.
“While the plan, as it stands, is a promising blueprint to address some forms of violence against women, it’s disappointing that the plan didn’t make it through the Council of Australian Governments’ process, ready to be implemented, in the first term of the current government,” said Hannah Harborow, Amnesty International Australia campaign coordinator.
Gender-based violence is endemic in Australia, where at least 40 per cent of women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes
(1). Violence against women currently costs Australia around $13.6 billion per year, and this figure is expected to rise to $15.6 billion by 2021 if the issue isn’t adequately addressed
(2). The proposed plan addresses domestic violence and sexual assault, but Amnesty International has called for a plan that addresses all forms of violence against women. This would include sexual harassment; trafficking; forced prostitution; and traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation, that are harmful to women and girls.
The proposed plan covers the three key areas necessary to comprehensively address domestic violence and sexual assault: the prevention of violence; the provision of services for women fleeing violence; and the prosecution of offenders, with standardised justice system responses toward gender-based violence.
Amnesty International welcomes the proposal to involve all governments, at all levels and across a range of portfolios, as well as the women’s sector and the wider community. The plan takes a holistic approach and works on improving collaboration between all services that assist women who have experienced violence.
It is also positive that the plan includes targets; indicators of change to show progress; regular periods of review and evaluation; and is supported by a pledge of additional funding.
“The incoming Federal Government must adopt a National Plan that goes beyond the piecemeal approach we have seen in the past, and must implement a long-term strategy to address the root causes of violence against women,” said Hannah Harborow.