Behind the safety of the walls at a suburban women’s shelter, you can see first-hand women scarred by the horrors of domestic violence.
During my time in politics, I’ve met with DV victims and visited women living in crisis accommodation and it’s clear the level of trauma they have experienced is beyond horrific.
Their stories are raw, and in many cases terrifying. Some have lost absolutely everything – from their homes and careers to the people they once loved.
I’ve often thought about the women, their situations and their lives, long after leaving. These women are not alone.
You only need to look at the statistics– they are truly sickening.
More than one in three women aged 18 years and older have experienced violence since the age of 15.
One in four women in Australia experience intimate partner violence and, while men are also reported to be victims, about 80 per cent of cases involve women.
It could be happening to your neighbour, your work colleague, your friend or even your mum or sister.
Domestic violence does not discriminate. It does not discriminate against the rich or poor, or people from different ethnic groups or backgrounds– it can happen everywhere and anywhere and it’s completely unacceptable.
So, what are we doing about this huge cultural issue here in South Australia?
To start, the conversation begins in the home and in the community.
Everyone, including parents, fathers, grandfathers and even teachers, have a huge responsibility to ensure the next generation grows up to respect women.
It starts with the small things – men calling out other men on snide remarks and inappropriate looks, right up to the big things that can begin with a shove here and there and end with dire consequences.
Here in SA, the new Liberal Government is committed to addressing the scourge of domestic violence.
We have invested more than $11.9 million over the next four years on a suite of measures to support women and children at risk in this state.
We are also in the final stages of launching the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme trial, which officially began yesterday. If just one victim is saved, then it’s an invaluable initiative.
To the whole community, we must continue to stand up and eliminate violence against women and children.
We should aim for a day when there is no need to talk about the critical urgency to stop violence against women and children– a day free of domestic violence.
Michelle Lensink is the South Australian Minister for Human Services. She is hosting a two- day national summit on reducing violence against women and their children in Adelaide this week.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
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