The past two weeks have provided a rare window of hope for Australians intent on addressing our nation's domestic violence crisis – a crisis that continues to grow with yet another violent murder of a woman, allegedly by her ex-partner, this week on the Gold Coast.1
Just yesterday it was announced that infamous US boxer Floyd Mayweather was prevented from coming to Australia, due to his history of violence towards women. Last week, Rosie Batty was named Australian of the year, saying she'll use this platform to advocate for awareness and action on this important issue, and two days later our Prime Minister (and Minister for Women) promised to prioritise action on domestic violence, saying "all governments are determined to eliminate violence against women".2
But actions speak louder than words, and Mr Abbott's actions since have already cast doubt on his willingness to confront and address this critical challenge facing our country. In his very next press conference, about 'resetting' this government, he failed to mention domestic violence once.
Even worse, his brutal and unfair budget cuts will soon mean that more than 50 services currently providing desperately needed support to survivors of domestic violence will be forced to cut staff, slash programs, or even close entirely as early as next month.3
Mr Abbott might be hoping that if he doesn't talk about the issue too much, the Australian public won't notice that his money is nowhere near where his mouth is.
Let's show him it won't work: www.getup.org.au/protect-services
Domestic violence in Australia has reached crisis point - a fact that has been highlighted in a recent report by global watchdog Human Rights Watch and late last year by the UN Committee Against Torture.
Most of us already know the daunting statistics. One in three women over the age of 15 have experienced physical violence. On average in Australia, one woman dies every week at the hands of a current or former partner. This week's murder was far from being the first this year.
In this national emergency, frontline services are absolutely crucial. From crisis support to legal representation, outreach programmes to counselling, these services are working right now to prevent future violence, and protect and support those already affected. If Mr Abbott wants Australians to take his commitment to ending domestic violence seriously, these services must be strengthened, not cut.
Rosie Batty has already spoken out against this round of devastating cuts, which affect services nationwide, calling out the Prime Minister's "double standard".4 The government knows they're in a tough spot with the public at the moment, and their disarray is a perfect opportunity for us to force them to change their priorities. If enough of us speak out, we can stand with Rosie and ensure her voice and efforts are amplified until together, we cannot be ignored.
Intense public pressure right now will go a long way in reminding Mr Abbott of his promise to prioritise gender and family issues, at a time when he cannot afford to break any more promises to the public.
Sign the petition to stand with Rosie, and tell all Australian governments - federal, state and territory - that funding for frontline services must be protected: www.getup.org.au/protect-services
Thanks for all you do,
Erin, Aurora, Leah, Sally and Alycia for the GetUp team
PS – Domestic violence affects people of all genders and in all sorts of relationships, and we want this campaign to be inclusive of all survivors. However, statistics clearly demonstrate that violence against women is a particularly staggering problem in Australia right now, and these cuts will directly and disproportionately affect our nation's ability to keep women safe. Our immediate focus must be on changing this tragic reality.
If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence, call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) for 24/7 support.
1 'Man remanded in custody over alleged axe murder of pregnant partner on Gold Coast', ABC news, 3 February 2015.
2 'COAG agenda to address ending violence against women', Prime Minister's Office, Press Release, 28 January 2015.
3 'Social Services scraps funding for homeless and housing groups', SMH, 22 December 2014; 'Australian legal aid services 'need $200 million more a year - Productivity Commission', SMH, 3 December 2014.
4 'Australian of the Year Rosie Batty calls on PM Tony Abbott to reinstate community services', Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February 2015.
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Our team acknowledges that we meet and work on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We wish to pay respect to their Elders - past, present and future - and acknowledge the important role all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within Australia and the GetUp community.
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