Prime Minister - Remarks at the Stand-up Against Violence Breakfast, Canberra


Thank you very much Laurie, Neil, Bill and Christian Porter, standing in for Michaelia Cash. And can I just say that Michaelia Cash’s leadership on this issue has been outstanding. And it is wonderful to see so many of my other colleagues here, and of course, representatives of the media as well.

We are here today to take a stand against violence against women and children. It is a vital stand.

Now, this year, we have seen a very significant shift in the way domestic violence has been reported in Australia. In large part due to our Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, and many other dedicated advocates, including Anne, the issue is well and truly on our national agenda.

Much of the discourse, as Christian has said, has been driven by the media which has taken up the cause of domestic violence and been powerful advocates on behalf of the victims.

It was only a few short months ago that I sat around the table with Senator Cash and many of you, media representatives, to discuss the important role you play in responsibly reporting family violence in this country.

By giving a voice to victims, the media has shone a light on what previously happened behind closed doors and was considered a private problem.

Even the term domestic violence, which has become the accepted term, is one that I know we all have reservations about because the fact is it is violence. The fact that it occurs within a relationship makes it no less violence than violence that occurs on the streets. And it has to be seen for what it is - a crime that must be stamped out as surely as we prosecute violence that occurs in the streets and anywhere else in the country.

Now the media has a very powerful role in helping shape the language we use about women, our attitudes towards them and the messages that young people receive about gender.

Let me say this to you - not all disrespect of women ends up in violence against women, but all violence against women begins with disrespecting women.

The most, the single most important thing each and every one of us can do as parents especially - as fathers, and as mothers - is to make sure that our sons respect their mothers and their sisters.

So much of this starts young and it is so encouraging today to see the programs that are operating in our schools, to promote respect for each other and respect for women.

If we do that, we will build up a set of attitudes, a culture that does not accept, that rejects this disrespect of women which, clearly not invariably, in most cases does not lead to violence against women. But all violence against women begins with disrespect of women. That's a fact. We all know that.

And so we have to remember that as our attitudes towards women have to be absolutely critically examined in the context of this vital issue.

Now, through our watch, the Government has funded the development of principles to help the media when it reports on domestic violence.

The principles ensure the media play a constructive role by avoiding victim blaming, it's never the victim's fault, protecting the safety of survivors and avoiding trivialising or sensationalising incidents of domestic violence.

Tomorrow marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and we'll be releasing new research that paints a disturbing picture about what many Australians think about domestic violence.

It tells us that far too many people excuse, diminish and blame the victim when it comes to violence against women. Now that is utterly unacceptable.

These attitudes have to change. These are big cultural changes we need to effect.

Now you, the media, play a critical leadership role in challenging and shaping the community attitudes that exist in order to break the cycle.

So now, today, is the time to capitalise on the momentum we've built this year and shift our conversation into the next gear. We need your help to do it.

I want to congratulate you all for your commitment to this vitally important campaign.

Thank you very much.