27 May, 2024
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Australians demand end to violence against women crisis

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Australians have taken to the nation’s streets to demand an end to gendered violence which advocates warn has reached crisis levels.

Thousands of attendees at protests in Sydney, Adelaide and Hobart on Saturday demanded concrete action to break the cycle of violence which has claimed the lives of at least 26 women so far in 2024, according to Destroy the Joint.

About 15 rallies will be held across the nation over the weekend, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expected to attend a protest in Canberra on Sunday.

 Men need to end their silence and hold each other accountable, the Sydney rally heard. Image by Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS 

Chants of “when our right to safety is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back” erupted from the crowd in Sydney, which included former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, Lucy Turnbull and NSW Premier Chris Minns.

Mr Turnbull said legislative, legal and cultural changes were needed for a society where everyone is safe.

“I’ve always quoted the wise words Lucy said years ago, which is that not all disrespect of women leads to violence against women, but that’s where all violence against women begins,” he told ABC News.

Sexual abuse survivor Harrison James told the crowd the end of violence against women begins when men are no longer silent and hold each other accountable.

“We have a total lack of introspection, which gives us men an excuse to turn away from discussions about violence, despite being central to the issue,” he said.

It comes three years after more than 100,000 people took part in the March 4 Justice across more than 40 Australian cities.

“Australia’s definitely in a time of a national emergency with men’s violence,” What Were You Wearing Australia chief executive Sarah Williams told ABC News Breakfast.

“It’s really devastating that it’s three years on and we’re probably in a worse situation than we were in 2021.”

Demonstrators gathered on Friday evening in Ballarat where locals have been rocked by the deaths of three residents – Samantha Murphy, Rebecca Young and Hannah McGuire – within two months, allegedly at the hands of men.

Jade Young, 47, Ashlee Good, 38, Dawn Singleton, 25, Pikria Darchia, 55, and Yixuan Cheng, 27, were all killed at a Bondi shopping centre in Sydney when Queensland man Joel Cauchi went on a stabbing rampage.

Earlier this week Molly Ticehurst, 28, was found dead at her home in Forbes in NSW and Emma Bates, 49, was discovered dead at a property in Cobram in Victoria.

“Violence against women has become normalised and that’s why I think that these rallies have become really special and important,” Ms Williams said.

 Violence against women has become a national emergency, advocacy groups warn. Image by Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS 

Melbourne rally organiser Martina Ferrara said seeing reports of a woman being killed every four days in 2024 is scary and impacts how they live their lives.

“It drives a horrible fear on little girls, on young mothers and women as a whole – it is terrifying to think that you could go out on a run and get murdered or you could be doing anything and still not be safe,” she told AAP.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on Saturday said the Albanese government had spent about $2.3 billion since coming to office on measures to address an “epidemic of male violence”.

“Men need to talk to their sons, to their brothers, to their colleagues at work and try to work together. It cannot be left to women,” he told reporters in Ipswich.

The rallies, organised by What Were You Wearing, called on governments to acknowledge violence against women as a national emergency, fund all domestic, family and sexual violence services for at least five years and set up specialist courts.

The group also wants better training for first responders and media personnel to stop victim-blaming and to wait at least 48 hours before publishing images of any victims.

NSW Police has said it would back a proposal to stop court registrars from making bail decisions in domestic violence cases, after the death of Ms Ticehurst.

 The NSW government is considering calls for a state-based royal commission into gendered violence. Image by Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS 

Victoria Police are calling for a register of convicted family violence offenders to help women make more informed choices when getting into a relationship.

Western Australia will spend $96.4 million to bolster the safety and support of victim-survivors of family and domestic violence.

Mr Minns has said the NSW government will consider calls for a state-based royal commission into gendered violence.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Lifeline 13 11 14

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

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