TRANSCRIPT: 54 women have lost their lives this year


SUBJECTS: Violence against women

PAUL CULLIVER, ABC NEWCASTLE: Paul Culliver with you this afternoon. It is 5:23. Well, of course, with just 4 or 5 weeks left of the year, there's a pretty shocking statistic that I want to share with you this afternoon. In fact, Sharon Claydon, of course, your Newcastle MP rose in Parliament just a few weeks ago to share the really damning number of women that have lost their life to violence just this year in this country. And yet just a couple of weeks later rose again to update us on the idea, the fact that we've lost even more women to violence, Six more in just a couple of weeks since Sharon Claydon rose in Parliament to speak about this issue. Sharon Claydon, good afternoon to you.

SHARON CLAYDON MP: Good afternoon, Paul.

CULLIVER: I don't even know where to begin with this, frankly. Women keep dying as a result of violence. What do we need to do?

CLAYDON: Well it's even worse, Paul. You're right. Two weeks ago, I rose in parliament and read out the names of 47 women who've been killed through acts of violence. Updated the house yesterday with another speech, reading another six more names into the public record. But just yesterday after I spoke, another report of a woman who was killed, Catiuscia Machado, aged in her 40s killed yesterday. So that's 54 women dead this year. And we know that this prevalence of violence in our community is, you know, it's all tracking in the wrong direction. 2.7 million women say that they've experienced partner violence or abuse. And we know it's even worse if you're a First Nations woman, if you're a woman with disability, if you're lesbian, bisexual, queer woman. You're all more likely to experience gender-based violence. So it's a you know, the reason I stand and make that speech each year is to, one, make sure that those women's lives that were cut way too short, that they have not died in vain, that we don't forget, you know, the shocking costs to all of the people who love them that are left behind and to us collectively as a community to lose, you know, 54 women already through shocking acts of utterly preventable violence in our community is, you know, it's too heartbreaking for words to be honest. So, it's really my efforts to just make sure we do not forget those women, but we really redouble our efforts on what we do to try and eradicate violence against women and children in all the communities that we live in.

CULLIVER: Yeah, well, you talk about them as preventable deaths. So what is that prevention?

CLAYDON: There's got to be a really strong focus on prevention because you do want to stop violence before it even starts. That's the ideal. So we've just released a ten year plan to end violence against women and children. There's a dedicated plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as well for some specific needs there. That is our you know, we have a government with a big ambition and that is to end this violence within a generation. Australia has never set itself a target like that before and it shouldn't be beyond us.

But so, you know, we've put it out there. We're going to be held accountable for that now and we need to be resourcing and ensuring that those plans, the strategies that are in place, have got every chance of succeeding now. So, you know, there is already a quite significant investment into women's safety in Australia now from the Commonwealth. We've put $2.3 billion on the table. That includes those plans I just spoke of and implementing those. But we've also committed to the ten days paid family domestic violence leave that's now part of the national employment standards that makes sure that women don't have to choose between having a job or fleeing a violent relationship. We've reduced the time now for victim survivors in terms of when they can access escaping violence payments, you know, delivering extra frontline services and workers, we've got to grow that workforce  And there's, you know, things like making the family law simpler so when women are escaping violent relationships that they're that we don't have a legal system that's acting against the safety of themselves and their kids and increasing, you know, financial support for temporary visa holders, too. We've got a lot of people who are in very vulnerable situations and have the threat of, you know, visas and deportation hanging over their head if they dare speak of the violence they're experiencing. So we've got to work on a lot of fronts, but this has got to be a collective effort. Paul, from it's not governments can do so much and we can and should be providing financial support and bolstering our local services as much as we can. It's going to require an effort from all levels of government, from, you know, every community organisation, our sporting groups, our local clubs, our, you know, it's a whole of community approach because really what we've got to try and do here is change the culture which thinks or which allows this level of violence to continue year after year.

CULLIVER: Talking about that funding, and obviously that's a crucial role that federal government can do which is provide the money so that the services on the ground can operate. Is it enough, like in terms of every woman that wants to flee a violent or dangerous situation has a place to go? Every call that happens to a service that might be able to help them, that call is answered. Every single report of something that may well be an indication of domestic or family violence is investigated. Is there enough money to do everything when we have the opportunity?

CLAYDON: Well, we know there's not enough resourcing right now. There's not enough emergency accommodation for women to go to. It’s not enough in terms of some really important infrastructure that is required in terms of housing, whether it's emergency, short term, long term housing. There's massive shortage of housing across all sectors of the community. But that is a critical part of whether a woman will leave a relationship, a violent relationship or not. So the Housing Future Fund that we finally just got through parliament a few weeks ago, that and the commitment to build 30,000 social affordable housing now. There is a quarantine section of that to go for women and children experiencing violence. Okay, so that's a start. We know we need more frontline workers. So we've made a commitment to ensure that there is funding there so that our fantastic on ground services like you know, Nova women and children, Jenny's Place, Hunter Women's Centre all of them - they need more staff. You know, there's no doubt about that. There is a high level of need and what governments can do is provide assistance to those services. And we've absolutely got to do our bit there to ensure that they've got the resources and the infrastructure, you know, both the human and physical kind of capital in place to be able to do their jobs and do it, do it to the best of their ability. And if this nation is serious about wanting to join us in that struggle all to end violence against women and children, and we've committed to a timeline now to do that within a generation. It's going to require us all to lift our game there.

So we will do, you know, governments rightly provide money, and I expect that services as they see increased demand, will want to see increased resourcing and support given to them. That needs to happen. But we've also got to get into the hearts and minds of people in our communities, in our soccer club, in, you know, the tennis tournaments that we go into, whatever, all of the neighbourhood groups and community organisations that people are part of and come together around, you know, there really just has to be some serious reflection and some, you know, if we need to lend more support to those people in terms of having conversations about difficult subjects then we need to do that because we've got to change people's thinking that, you know, violence against women and children is somehow, you know, private best not talked about or somehow okay, because that is such the wrong message to be delivering now. And I think we've made a lot of gains now about being able to talk about this more openly in our communities. But, you know, we know there are still women living in violent relationships. We know that women are still reluctant to report. So the problem is always bigger than what the statistics even tell us. We know that. And I think that it requires a whole of community effort. And, you know, I hear people say sometimes, well, why doesn't she leave this relationship? You know what really, the question we need to be asking is, is why does he think it's okay to behave like that? That's the kind of cultural shift we need in our society now.

CULLIVER: Yeah, well, happy to continue to have those conversations and really put the focus on what we need to and be open and honest about those conversations we need to have. We'll have to leave it there at this point. Sharon Claydon but I do really appreciate your time today.

CLAYDON: Thanks very much, Paul.