Throughout July and August White Ribbon Australia focused on advocating for changes within the New South Wales and Tasmanian state governments. In New South Wales, we were invited to write a submission to the NSW Government proposed amendments to the Crimes Act 1990. Our submission supported the criminalisation of coercive control and pushed for more public education programs about violence against women.
Coercive control is a pattern of behaviours designed to isolate, degrade, exploit and control a person. Victim-survivors often describe it as the worst form of abuse they experienced
. White Ribbon Australia has been advocating for the criminalisation of coercive control across all States and Territories, and the move by the New South Wales government to introduce a bill criminalising this form of abuse is a significant step to creating a safer future for Australian women and their children.
In Tasmania, White Ribbon Australia engaged with the Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness, calling for the strengthening of safe and appropriate accommodation options for survivors of abuse. Our advocacy asks included extending Communicare’s Breathing Space program across every Jurisdiction. Breathing Space is a residential men’s behavioural change program that provides men who have been abusive in their intimate partner and family relationships with up to six months of accommodation while they undertake an intensive therapeutic program. In 2020-21, 116,200 Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) clients had experienced family and domestic violence. This was 42% of all SHS clients that year
. The Breathing Space program’s residential nature provides an alternative to removing women and children from their family home.
With the knowledge that primary prevention works best when it’s delivered where people live, play, work and learn, throughout July and August we strengthened our commitment to education school students on men’s violence against women. We held events in Tasmania with hundreds of high school students to delve into the behaviours and attitudes that lead to violence, discussing gender stereotypes, violence prevention strategies, and how the students can foster respectful ideas, actions and attitudes. We ended our school engagement program by asking young men what they had learned. They told us:
- "I learnt that one in four women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime”
- “I learnt only a small amount of men are actually violent”
- “I learnt that I can speak up when I see sexism around me”
- “I will do something when I see it happens”
- “I have learnt there is no one way to be a man”.
We have also been busy reaching people where they live and play by onboarding three new Community Partners and one new Community Action Group. These Community stakeholders will run primary prevention initiatives in their own communities. To support them, we have run two Reflective Practice Sessions for Community Partners, and three Creating Change Training sessions for Community Partners and Community Action Groups.
For more on what White Ribbon has achieved in July and August, click here
Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. (2021), Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence. Retrieved from https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Social_Policy_and_Legal_Affairs/Familyviolence/Report
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