I am one of more than 56,000 Australian Christians that are part of the Common Grace movement. We are passionate about Jesus and justice. I will vote for a candidate who shows #CommonGrace. I am specifically concerned about Domestic and Family Violence.
As Christians, we believe the vision Jesus gives us is of a community where the vulnerable are protected, the wounded are healed, and the powerful serve. That’s why we believe that our communities should be a haven from violence, where victims are believed and perpetrators held accountable. Yet every three minutes a woman is hospitalised due to Australia's domestic violence crisis. Every week a woman dies. We keep hearing people say “why didn’t she just leave?” But when women do leave their partners, they’re jumping into a safety net that’s full of holes, with the demand for refuges so high that every second woman is now turned away. It’s just not good enough. When will decision-makers get serious about addressing this national emergency and finally support our dangerously underfunded frontline services, so that anyone escaping abuse can find help when they need it? When will our government care about saving women’s lives as much as our community does?
When women who want to escape violent relationships reach out for help, too often there is none available. What help will you provide so they can be safe?
With all of this in mind could you please specifically answer the following questions:
1. Every week a woman is killed by a man who claims to have loved her. Will you add your voice to the call that domestic violence rates are a national emergency and commit to fully funding frontline services and transitional accommodation?
One in 12 women report they have been forced to return to their abusive partner because they had nowhere else to go. That’s because the necessary services that allow women to escape an abuser are overwhelmed and cannot meet demand. Every night, homeless shelters are forced to turn away women and children fleeing abuse because they are full. The national hotline continues to leave thousands of calls unanswered. And community legal services aren’t able to help many of the victims coming to them for advice as they’re already swamped with more cases of family violence than they can handle. When will decision-makers get serious about addressing this national emergency and fully fund our frontline services, so that anyone escaping abuse can get help when they need it?
2. What is your policy for preventing gender-based violence?
Decades of research shows the leading cause of violence against women is the persistent cultural belief in gender roles that men should dominate in relationships. When masculinity is defined by using power, we get violence. All victims should be able to receive the help they need to deal with trauma and move towards recovery. Perpetrators - most of them men - should always be held accountable for their violence and also (where appropriate) be able to access behaviour change programs to turn their lives around.
3. How will you rise to the challenge of achieving a fair and equal future for all women?
There is comprehensive evidence that points to rigid gender roles and stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity as one of the key drivers of violence against women. This election, there are a range of women’s issues not being adequately tackled by politicians. What we need to see is more meaningful talk about creating a level playing field for men and women in economic and social opportunity, and for women who take on the lion's share of unpaid caring responsibilities a real chance at economic security. That means fundamental changes to tax policies and parental leave systems to properly support the work and parenting choices that men and women want to make. We need more action on making the gender pay gap smaller. More affordable childcare. More women in Parliament. More support for women leaving violent relationships.
4. How will you work to change attitudes that excuse, trivialise, and normalise abuse?
Study after study keeps showing that there is still a disturbing community-wide tolerance of violence against women. We know there is a clear link between victim-blaming attitudes and the perpetration (and tolerance) of domestic violence. As a community, we need more efforts to drive change in these attitudes, and in social norms that continue to support or excuse them. One in five Australians believe violence can be excused if the perpetrator later regrets it. We need public campaigns that reinforce why domestic violence is everyone's business, not just a problem for those directly affected. And how we all play a role in speaking out against such violence.
5. Blaming victims is a common way the media reports on domestic violence. How will you seek to change the inaccurate and sexist media reporting about violence against women?
The media can play a powerful role in being leaders in society and help to reduce the community attitudes that support violence against women, yet some news articles still indicate the victim was responsible for the violence inflicted on them. That’s why we want to see media reports stop including excuses for the perpetrator, or indicating that the victim provoked them. We need a media that we can trust to accurately describe victims’ experiences with care, respect and without judgement or blame.
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