OPINION: Over the weekend 100,000 people marched for women’s safety. The Prime Minister made it about himself.

Fed up with the endless, relentless murder of women in our country, 100,000 people marched for change over the weekend.

In a spectacular show of force men, women and children painted signs and put aside their plans to gather in 17 cities and towns across Australia under the title: 'No More: National Rally Against Violence'. 

The demands of the rally organisers What Were You Wearing, included the government declaring a national emergency and taking immediate action, proper funding for all domestic, family and sexual violence services, alternate reporting options and sexual, domestic and family violence specialists in courts. They're also pushing for changes to the way media report on issues of violence against women.


According to their tally, we've lost 32 women to men's violence since the start of 2024. It's only April.

But instead of focusing on the rallies themselves, the crowds supporting change and the demands of the group, you'll notice a lot of the headlines today focusing on something else; Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. 

That's because our leader accused rally organisers of 'lying' on Sunday. Of not letting him address the crowd.

"We did ask to speak, myself and (Finance minister) Katy (Gallagher) and we were told that’s not possible," he told a 5000 strong crowd in Canberra.

"And that’s fine, we respect the organisers’ right to do that."

In a video of Albanese saying this, you can see organiser Sarah Williams' eyes widen at the statement. She says (off mic) while standing next to the PM, "that's a full out lie" and then turns away and bursts into tears. 

A number of people rush to comfort her as Albanese continues talking, unaffected. 

Watch it here:

Video via @whatwereyouwearing_

Setting the record straight afterwards on Instagram, Williams explained that when contacted that very morning, the Prime Minister's office said that Gallagher would be "happy to speak," but "not the Prime Minister".

"Albanese's office made it clear that he was just walking and was not interested in speaking. Myself and WWYW never denied him from speaking. He never asked to speak," she said. 

It was fellow protesters heckling him once spotted that encouraged Albanese to stand up and talk, and when Williams asked the crowd if they should let him, she says he replied, "I'm the Prime Minister of the country, I run this country".

"For him to not only demand he speak because he was being heckled, but lie was disgraceful. He demonstrated today what entitlement looks like. A man with power trying to diminish a vulnerable young woman," she wrote. 


So here we are. Instead of focusing on the very important demands behind the rally, we're focusing on the Prime Minister's lie. 

Somehow, Anthony Albanese has managed to make this conversation about him.

In his speech, he explained that the national emergency declaration was a short-term legal avenue intended for natural disasters, but declared domestic and family violence a "national crisis". He stated that "we need to change the culture. We need to change attitudes. We need to change to the legal system. We need to change the approach by all governments". 

"We are here today to demand that governments of all levels must do better, including my own, including every state and territory government," he added. 

"We’re here as well to say that society, and Australia, must do better."

He spoke about his government's 10-year plan and the introduction of domestic violence payments. But as one protester yelled out "it's not enough." The sheer number of deaths is testament to that truth.

Williams pointed out that by the end of the weekend, neither Albanese nor his ministers had committed to any of the rally demands. In fact, she said she was left "heartbroken" and "traumatised" when she asked the politicians present at her rally to commit and she was met with silence.


Albanese did announce one major new move. He has convened a national cabinet meeting for Wednesday at which violence against women will be the sole agenda. One of the topics expected to be discussed is bail laws, with NSW reeling from the death of Forbes woman Molly Ticehurst whose former partner allegedly murdered her just last week. 

Daniel Billings had been released on bail despite facing allegations of multiple sexual and violent assaults on Ticehurst at the time of the alleged murder. 


But Williams doesn't think the national cabinet meeting will do anything, because as she pointed out "we haven't even been invited...but also no grassroots organisations are being invited. 

"You're talking about wanting to prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, but the rally that is led by Indigenous women isn't invited? Make that make sense."

In response, What Were You Wearing is organising more action. They're planning a national strike on May 20th to continue the conversation. 

Today violence against women and the country's outrage at the current state of affairs is making national headlines (even if the Prime Minister is making it about himself). That has to be a step in the right direction. 

Because the quiet approach wasn't working. 

If history has taught us anything, it's that sometimes you have to give those in charge no choice but to listen.

Feature image: AAP/Mick Tsikas.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a national organisation that helps women, children and families move on after the devastation of domestic and family violence. Their mission is to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most. If you would like to support their mission you can donate here.