STOP GASPING AT THE HORROR: VIOLENCE NEEDS ACTION

As domestic violence becomes more visible, Senator Helen Polley calls on new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to act.

Every day in Tasmania a woman is abused, emotionally, physically or sexually by her partner or former partner.

This year to date 2,606 incidents of family violence and 1,804 domestic disputes have been reported to Tasmania police.

Violence against women in Australia has reached shameful and epidemic proportions. Put into context, one woman each week has lost their life to domestic violence this year in Australia.

Enough is enough. We have reached a point where too often the first public warning sign that a woman is in danger – is a report of her death.

Where too often we become familiar with names of women we don’t know because of the tragic way in which their lives ended.

I acknowledge that men also suffer from domestic violence – but it is far less prevalent.

Family violence is one of the most distressing and clear illustrations of the unequal treatment of women in our society.

If a man emotionally, physically or sexually abuses a woman it is not OK.

Men who act in this way towards women are not men at all. As a society we must say no.

It is not good enough and it will not be tolerated.

The Tasmanian government’s multi-million-dollar family violence plan to tackle the problem is a definitely leap in the right direction – but this is not a problem that can be solved by any single state, organisation or individual.

The dreadful reports that have rocked our nation over the last few weeks have reinforced the need for national leadership.

We need leadership at the Commonwealth level, to bring together a comprehensive response.

Labor’s calls on the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott to hold a National Crisis Summit on family violence may have fallen on deaf ears, but there is a renewed opportunity for the new Prime Minister to take action – today.

If new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull truly wants to show a new style of leadership he must use the opportunity to give family violence the attention lacking under Tony Abbott for the past two years.

Labor is ready and willing to work with the government in a bipartisan way to make progress to eliminate family violence.

We have been calling for more to be done for a long time and of course, welcome any action on family violence.

I hope that Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement on domestic violence today also goes to reversing the cuts he originally helped to approve.

We still need a National Crisis Summit, but if the new Prime Minister is not up to the task, Labor has promised to commission a National Crisis Summit on Family Violence within the first 100 days of coming to government.

I could not think of a better issue for the new Prime Minister to show us his new style of politics, political debate and advocacy.

Act today Mr Turnbull, not tomorrow, because tomorrow might be too late, and another life may be lost.

This article was originally published in the Labor Herald on Thursday, 24 September 2015.