Address to the White Ribbon Day Breakfast


Well thank you very much Nicholas and thank you Michael very much for your inspiring words.

This is of course – this is a project that unites all the parties. And in a place where there is plenty of disagreement, it is wonderful to see the Labor Party, the Opposition, The Greens, the Coalition, Pauline Hanson, all sitting there together united in this one cause. Many other colleagues here as well. So I want to acknowledge everybody here.

This is an issue that is not above politics, it is not beyond politics, it is something in which all of the participants from the political process are united and that is even more important.

So I want to thank you all for being here. I want to thank the Chief of the Defence Force and all of his defence leaders here today for the great leadership they’re showing.

I also want to thank the founders of White Ribbon. I want to thank its CEO, Libby Davies, Nicholas Cowdery.

I want to thank Telstra too for sponsoring this event.

Most importantly, I want to acknowledge the victims of domestic violence and their families, whose courage and suffering we honour today. Yours are the faces and the stories behind the statistics that we are determined to change.

Today, I recommit to my role as a White Ribbon Ambassador.

And I encourage all men to wear a white ribbon as a sign of respect for women. As a sign that you do not tolerate violence or disrespect of women, and as a vow to stand up and speak out wherever you see it.

On White Ribbon Day, we stand together - men and women - and we condemn the actions of the few who commit domestic violence.

And we call on all men to respect women and show that they abhor violence against women, to stand with us and say so.

We want to enlist men in this campaign because we know how powerful it is when men say to their brothers, their fathers, their sons, their mates: ‘no’ to violence and disrespect of women.

Yes, it is true that some men are victims of domestic violence.

But the overwhelming majority of victims of family violence are women and children. And the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators are men.

We know for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, they are 34 times more likely to experience domestic violence.

That’s why all of us here today and many more men across the country are leading by example and calling out domestic violence for what it is - a crime.

Nicholas nailed it in his opening remarks – this is not a private matter, it is a crime. The term domestic violence which I suspect is too established to be dispensed with, is one that has the risk of minimising or mitigating what is a crime of violence.

And it has to be seen and rejected and stopped as a crime.

Now as Prime Minister, I have led a national conversation about the importance of respect for women.

Disrespecting women does not always result in violence against women. But all violence against women begins with disrespecting women.

This is a key insight and one we must never forget.

This is about respect.

Disrespecting women will lead, not in all cases, but too often, to violence against women.

Now we can all make a difference. We can be better role models. That is critical, especially for us here as leaders. Whether we are leaders in business – I see Tony Warren from Telstra. Whether we are leaders of the Defence Forces or the Public Service or parliamentarians. All of us are leaders and we have to be role models.

But above all as parents, we have to raise our sons from the earliest age to respect women - beginning with their mothers and their sisters - the women closest to them, the first women they meet, they learn to live with. They must be taught to respect them, and we must encourage and teach our daughters to have greater self-esteem.

Now this is a big cultural shift and it takes time. But I want to commend the Minister for Women Michaelia Cash for the ‘Stop it at the Start’ advertising campaign.

That has been, I believe, one of the most effective government advertising campaigns I’ve ever seen. I think they’ve really nailed it.

I think we should give Michaelia, we should give Michaelia credit for that.

All of us when we saw those ads saw scenes there we all had seen before in real life.

That was a real consciousness shifting campaign because it pulled people up with a jolt and it was massively endorsed at the Domestic Violence Summit in Queensland recently, and we are going to do more of it. It is a very important element.

My Government is targeting both prevention and protection - preventing domestic violence by targeting its causes, gender inequality and disrespect of women and protecting women and children who have suffered from domestic violence and are in danger.

Last month, I hosted the COAG National Summit on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children, with the Queensland Premier – it was the first of its kind.

The Summit brought together First Ministers, Women’s Safety Ministers and more than 150 experts and leaders to reaffirm our commitment as a nation to stopping violence against women and children.

There, along with my State and Territory colleagues, we launched a Third Action Plan, which had extensive community input, engagement and buy-in.

For the Commonwealth’s part, we provided an additional $100 million investment to complement the significant and much welcomed work of the states and territories.

At the Summit we considered the progress and best practice around the country.

New South Wales, for example, video is now collected by the New South Wales Police when attending a domestic violence incident, which is then able to be submitted as evidence to a court.

In Tasmania, they have developed Safe Families Units which coordinate all support services for victims and hold perpetrators to account.

In Queensland, they have made non-fatal strangulation an offence in its own right under the criminal code as this is a very strong indicator of escalating violence.

And I am proud to report on some of the tangible outcomes of the Commonwealth Government’s $100 million Women’s Safety Package – my first announcement when I became Prime Minister late last year.

We have expanded the 1800RESPECT frontline services. Our new model for telephone counselling has reduced the average call wait time for victims of domestic violence from 10.3 minutes to 35.11 seconds.


As you can see, every nano-second counts.

Our Cross Border Intelligence Desk cuts across the remote communities in the tri-border regions of Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia, and has successfully identified and tracked 13 high risk offenders in the first six months of this year. These offenders have been convicted or are currently before the courts.

We have implemented special Domestic Violence Units and Health Justice Partnerships around Australia, which has already assisted 534 clients through 1,400 services.

Our DV-alert Training Program has trained over 3,800 people in the past year, helping frontline workers recognise signs of domestic and family violence.

We are helping keep women safe online, and have trained over 700 frontline workers across Australia, through eSafety Women workshops, helping women understand and protect themselves against technology facilitated abuse.

And later this morning, the Minister for Women and the Minister for Communications will announce the appointment of Julie Inman Grant as the new eSafety Commissioner.


Julie has had long experience in the digital world, including with Microsoft and Twitter, she has worked in the Congress. She has been at the intersection of the digital world and public safety and public policy for years. She is ideally, I would say almost uniquely qualified for this role and I am so delighted that she’s accepted it and that she is here with us today.

The Children’s eSafety Commissioner was established when I was Communications Minister, with Alastair McGibbon as the first and very capable Commissioner, and we are expanding the office’s responsibility to include online safety issues affecting adults, and renaming the office as the eSafety Commissioner.

These expanded responsibilities will include a lead role in combatting what is describe as the non-consensual sharing of intimate images otherwise known as ‘revenge porn’.

Julie will work closely with Alastair McGibbon, who is now my Special Adviser on Cyber Security.

In parallel, the Commonwealth Government is working with states and territories through COAG to support a nationally consistent approach to criminal offences relating to the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

Each of these practical actions provides immediate support for women and children experiencing domestic violence.

There is still so much more to do. We can’t be satisfied while even one person is in danger.

To every victim of domestic violence, your families and friends, to those that have been frightened, and hurt, who are scarred today or scarred by what has happened in the past, Australia stands with you.

Australia’s leaders stand with you.

On this White Ribbon Day, may you be sustained by this solidarity and by the knowledge that we will not rest until you are safe.

Thank you very much.