International Women's Day
Today I visited Lou’s Place International Women’s Day tragic and powerful installation in Martin Place. It was 66 pairs of shoes to represent the 66 women killed in the last 12 months as a result of domestic violence.
This is a call to action to all of us to support campaigns to stop violence against women, and the bravery of women like Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame, who have spoken out against powerful men and a culture that endorses sexual assault. No one should have to be fearful of rape and assault in their home, at work, or in the street.
It is important that leaders are not silent on issues around sexual assault and I believe the way forward in dealing with the serious rape allegation against the federal Attorney General is through an independent inquiry. The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of our democracy and like anyone else, the Attorney General has the right to it, but he also holds the highest office of the law in the country and we cannot ignore the claims against him while he continues to act in this role. With the alleged victim now dead, there is no other option to work through the allegations.
The revelation comes at a time when disturbing accounts from teenage women of sexual assault by their male peers are in the spotlight, and domestic and family violence rates are high. As a society we need to work towards respect for all people regardless of their sex, gender, race, ethnicity, LGBTQIA+ status, marital status or age. We need to start tackling this problem on all fronts including early education, inclusion and the law.
This is a difficult time for Australia, especially for survivors of sexual assault, many of whom may not have talked about incidents from their past or who are dealing with more recent or current incidents. If you need to talk to someone, I encourage you to reach out to the available services:
~ 1800 RESPECT sexual assault, domestic or family violence 1800 737 752
~ Lifeline 13 11 14
~ Mental Health Line 1800 011 511
~ Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
~ Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Sign the e-petition calling for earlier and better consent education here: > HERE. You can read the many disturbing testimonies from school students on Chanel Contos’ petition page: > HERE. I intend to follow up further with questions to the minister when Parliament sits again.