55th Session of the UN Commission on Status of
International Launch of the Australian national Action
Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.
Australian Mission to the UN, 150 East 42nd Street, 33rd Floor
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner and
Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination, The Australian Human Rights
05 May 2011
The Hon Minister Ellis, Ambassador Quinlan, Minister Beniato, Janette Amer of
UN Women, other dignitaries, men and women, thank you for inviting me to speak
at today’s international launch of Australia’s National Plan to
Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.
As I travel across Australia I often ask people to name countries where they
consider violence against women to be a problem. More often than not they reel
off a list of other countries, but fail to recognize the high prevalence rates
in their own country, Australia.
Over the last six months I have visited over 40 different centres, shelters,
support services and courts and I have met with women and men from many diverse
communities – survivors of violence, educators, service providers, people
living in remote and rural areas, Indigenous women, women with disabilities,
migrant women, court support workers, judges and others. There were two things
major learning’s for me.
Firstly, the scale of the issue. As the Minister has said the prevalence
rates are high - one in three women in Australia has experienced physical
violence since the age of 15 and
one in five sexual violence.
Every week in Australia approximately one woman is killed by her current or
former partner, often after a
history of domestic violence.
Violence is a leading cause of disability and death among 15-45 year
olds. These intimate partner
homicides account for one fifth of all
The reality is that
you can point your finger to anywhere on the map of Australia and you will find
people dealing with domestic violence or sexual assault.
The second thing I learned was just how much our effectiveness in addressing
this human rights abuse depended on us having a truly national response –
a single unified plan that could bring together all the disparate activity that
was already happening across the country. We needed a comprehensive and well
thought out strategy, with good data collective and effective monitoring.
This National Plan is a landmark moment in Australia.
It is incredibly important for the very large and often hidden group of women
in this country that, every day, live their lives in fear within an intimate or
family relationship. This Plan sends a clear message that all state, territory
and the federal governments of Australia will be working together with women to
address these issues.
In 1995 the Beijing Platform for Action identified violence against women as
critical area for concern and called for States to take integrated measures to
prevent and eliminate violence against women. It is therefore fitting for this
plan to be launched here at the 55th session of CSW.
This plan adopts a cooperative, holistic approach, with a focus on
prevention, resourcing and integration of services and holding perpetrators to
I also welcome the fact that this Plan responds to the recommendations of the
United National Universal Periodic Review of Australia as well as the Committee
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, both of which
called for a National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children
and its implementation.
But the Plan is just the beginning. Even the best laid plan needs commitment,
determination and resources to be properly implemented. It will be important
for all Australian governments as well as the people of Australia to work
together to implement this plan, including ensuring a plan of this size and
significance is rigorously and independently monitored and evaluated.
I congratulate the Minister and the Australian Government on the launch of
the new National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.
I want to close today’s launch by recounting a conversation I had with
a survivor of domestic violence on the day before I flew out to CSW. She was a
woman from rural Australia who had experienced domestic violence of the most
extreme nature and is currently going through the process of seeking redress
through the courts.
When I told her that the Australian Government was launching a National Plan
to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, she said to me, “this
is one of the most significant and important days of my life. It tells me that
Australia cares about what happens to women like me - that violence
against women now has a place on the nation’s agenda.”
My hope is that with this Plan and a renewed commitment by all, a
woman’s right to live free from violence will become a reality for
 ABS, Personal Safety,
Australia, 2005 (reissue), Catalogue No. 4906.0 (2006), p7 at http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4906.02005%20(Reissue)?OpenDocument
 ABS, Personal Safety,
Australia, 2005 (reissue), Catalogue No. 4906.0 (2006),
 Mouzos, J and C Rushforth
((2003) Family Homicide in Australia, Canberra, Australian Institute of
 J Dearden &
W Jones, Homicide in Australia: 2006 – 06 National Homicide Monitoring
Program Annual Report, Australian Insittute of Criminology (2008),
 VicHealth (2004), The health
costs of violence: Measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate
 J Dearden & W
Jones, Homicide in Australia: 2006 – 06 National Homicide Monitoring
Program Annual Report, Australian Insittute of Criminology (2008), p2