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Violence Against Women

14 October 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise on behalf of the Greens to speak in favour of this very important motion, and in so doing I want to reflect, as the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos has done, on some of the statistics—really alarming statistics—on the prevalence of domestic violence and violence against women in our community.

In South Australia, there was an 11 per cent increase in family and domestic-related assaults reported to police during the pandemic—that is, 2020. Obviously, we know the pandemic is ongoing. SA domestic violence services experienced a large spike in demand for emergency accommodation coinciding with the pandemic in 2020. Nationally, there is a very similar trend. A survey of 15,000 women in May 2020 found that two-thirds of those who had experienced violence during the first few months of the pandemic said the violence had either started or escalated during that time.

On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner—one woman a week. Australian women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner. Almost 12 women a day are hospitalised for assault injuries perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner, and in 2018 to 2019 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had 29 times the rate of hospitalisation for non-fatal violence assaults when compared with non-Indigenous women.

It is very clear that this parliament needs to take action, and I commend the Hon. Connie Bonaros for putting this forward because it is so vitally important that we show leadership on this. What does that leadership look like? Of course, it is through passing resolutions, such as this today. It is also about ensuring that there is support for women who are in crisis: governments adequately funding crisis accommodation and ensuring that women and children have safe spaces to go.

It is also about leading cultural change. It is about stopping the narrative that says that women are somehow to blame for the terrible things that men are doing to them—this narrative that tries to pathologise or blame women or shame women in terms of how they dress and so on. We need to stop that kind of destructive, sexist and misogynistic framing and instead get men to take responsibility for their behaviour.

Men need to step up and take responsibility for stamping out this appalling behaviour and ending this violence because it is men who are the perpetrators of this behaviour. It is really vitally important that men in our society take responsibility for their actions and that we see an end to the sexist and misogynistic language that is all too often associated with this debate. I commend the motion on behalf of the Greens and encourage members to support it.