Remarks at ‘Our Watch’ Parliamentary Event

Speech
14 Feb 2018
Mural Hall, Parliament House
Prime Minister
E&OE

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you Andrew, we’re all still working through the machine analogy and the cogs. I think there are quite a few of us that are more like springs, you know; springing into action, rather than just whirring.

So thank you very much and thank you for your acknowledgement to country. So I will just add in the Ngunawal language;

Yoonggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngoonawal dhowrrra.

Wanggarra lin jin yin marunn bulaan boogarabung.

So we are here on Ngunawal country and we honour elders past and present.

It’s great to be here with ambassador Chloe Shorten and Bill and Kelly O’Dwyer, the Minister for Women and of course Mary Barry, the CEO. And Natasha. Now I have to say Natasha, I am always happy when I see you and one of the reasons you make me so happy is that you remind me of our daughter Daisy when she was very little. Well, I’m not saying you remind me of Daisy so much, you remind me of when Daisy was little and you were in the Senate. Daisy used to refer to you as Natasha Spot-Destroyer.

[Laughter]

Of course we didn’t correct her, naturally because it was such a terrific name. But I know she has been such an admirer of yours and is just like her mother Lucy - who is an Our Watch ambassador too and sends her apologies - a really dedicated feminist and I think a very natural feminist.

I’ll tell you a practical story – you talked about sport - about our grandson Jack, who is four and a half and full of beans. He said something to Daisy about, you know, boys being better than girls at sport, or something like that. Daisy teaches at a girls school, she is a high-school teacher and a lot of her girls play in the local Australian Rules competition.

So she didn’t say anything to Jack, she just took him to watch the game and he became entranced. He sort of basically ended up becoming the person who carried on the oranges and water and so it was quite some time before we took him to a Swans game and he actually realised that boys played Australian Rules football.

[Laughter]

So it was a very, very practical, canny approach and it’s a point that Lucy makes. She is the first person I heard make it and is so right; we have an obligation as parents and grandparents to make sure our sons and grandsons grow up to respect the women in their lives right from the very start, whether it’s their sisters, their mothers, their aunties, their grandmothers and so forth. It is critically important.

That is something where we can make change one step at a time. You quoted Lucy already Natasha and I quote her all the time too on it, she said: “disrespecting women does not always result in violence against women but that’s where it all begins.”

That is absolutely true and that’s why the ‘Stop it at the Start’ campaign that Kelly’s predecessor Michaelia Cash launched, was such a great success.

I don’t know how many of you saw it, but it’s one of the best government advertising campaigns I have ever seen, because it really cut through.

It reminded us of all of those unconscious stereotypes that you see that disrespect women basically in one way or another or underestimate women. It was so good and you know 67% of ‘influencers’ - that means parents, teachers, coaches can remember the campaign and actually changed their behaviour as a result.

So we are working on the next phase which will help move the conversation forward and show that change is really possible. So you kindly said, Andrew, reminded us that my first announcement as Prime Minister was to announce the $100 million Women’s Safety Package.

We’ve improved the training of frontline workers, enhanced service delivery and made sure we’ve got the best education and resources to change attitudes on domestic violence. Again a term I really dislike, because I think it underestimates the gravity of what we’re talking about in that dreadful description: “Oh it’s a domestic.” I mean, it is violence. I guess we’re stuck with the term now but this violence against women and children, is what we are focused on. It is a crime full stop.

But obviously we are rolling out a number of specialised domestic violence units, they bring together legal, financial, housing, counselling, employment services. There’s got to be a holistic approach. We’ve provided more than 9,000 individuals services to around 4,000 clients.

In the law reform area, since last November, domestic violence orders will be automatically recognised and enforceable nationwide under our National Domestic Violence Orders Scheme. This year we also intend to pass the Family Violence and Other Measures Bill to improve the interaction between the family law system and state and territory systems so that victims of domestic violence don’t have to navigate through multiple court systems.

We’ll also criminalise the breach of personal protection orders issued under the Family Law Act, reinforcing the point I made earlier that domestic violence is a criminal offence and not a private matter that occurs behind closed doors.

So there’s a lot that we’re doing to combat the scourge of domestic and family violence but underpinning all of it – and it’s so important – is that cultural change. That’s where Our Watch is so critically important. There are so many people working to change these attitudes and I just want to thank you Natasha and Mary and all of your team, your ambassadors like Chloe and others here tonight for your work in supporting this big cultural shift.

You know, there are a number of things that have been the subject of a taboo for a long time. You touched on the #metoo movement Andrew, being a good example of that. Perhaps not #metoo, perhaps not a taboo, but things where people look the other way.

That’s changed, this is changing. We are really changing Australia for the better and in doing so we are respecting the women and children that we love, the women and children that represent more than half of Australia, that we should protect.

That change, that respect, that will make this a safer and a better country.

So I’m delighted to be here and again, Chloe, your fellow ambassador Lucy sends her apologies for not being here, but her very best wishes to everyone in this great exercise.

Thank you.

[Applause]

[ENDS]