“This is a leadership issue. This is an issue that calls for cultural change. We have to change our attitudes. We all play a part in breaking the cycle.”
When Malcolm Turnbull spoke about White Ribbon day today, he was right.
We need leadership. We need cultural change. We need to address the attitudes and behaviours which facilitate and perpetuate this scourge. We need to break the cycle. We need to raise awareness.
We need all these things.
We need them desperately.
But, more than anything else, we need money. We need to invest in services to keep women and children safe.
In an address today to mark the White Ribbon day, the Prime Minister emphasised on his commitment to eradicating domestic violence.
“All members and senators here are totally committed to this cultural change, I know that. One of the first actions of my government was to announce the funding of $100 million for a woman’s safety package and Ken [Lay] referred to that earlier, to address the immediate needs of women to fear for their lives.”
That announcement was welcome and set the tone for a favourable change in narrative under the Turnbull-led government. But it’s not enough.
Less than $5 million in that package went to crisis accommodation.
Five million dollars seem significant, but consider this: the $300 million which was cut in funding to women’s shelters and legal services in 2014. As author and social commentator Anne Summers writes in the SMH, in NSW there are just 14 refuges specialising in dealing with domestic violence. Previously, until the Going Home Staying Home “reforms” of 2014, there were 78.
Where did those 64 shelters go? More importantly, where did the women go who used to be able to find safety in those places?
The truth is: They went to their cars. They went to other people’s couches. They went back to their abusers.
Some went home to die.