By NATASHA STOTT DESPOJA
Many readers would have seen the disturbing image of actor Keira Knightley being kicked brutally by her ‘partner’ in a UK public service announcement designed to raise awareness about violence against women.
This video, criticised by some for its confrontational nature, is a depiction of what some women experience every day.
It made me want to recreate this ad for the Australian screen, perhaps featuring one of our best loved actors, to highlight this everyday reality for many Australian women.
Some may question whether we need to resort to such tactics in 21st century Australia, but the statistics about violence against women and children in our country are chilling.
Eighty nine Australian women were killed by their partners between 2008 and 2010. 1 in 3 women experience physical violence and almost 1 in 5 women experience sexual violence.
Women usually experience violence at the hands of men they know, often, in their own homes, and often, repeatedly, sometimes, over many years, if not a lifetime.
The biggest risk factor for becoming a victim of sexual assault, domestic or family violence is simply being a woman.
Fortunately, there is growing evidence that violence against women and children is preventable.
That is why the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments have joined forces to create a new national foundation to tackle this issue.
The Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children is tasked with changing community attitudes towards violence against women, and ultimately with encouraging all Australians to reject violence.
It is an honour to have been asked to Chair this national effort to address violence against women.
We must unite across party lines and State borders to prevent such violence, and the bipartisan and cross-jurisdictional nature of the Foundation does that.
The Foundation’s work will focus on “primary prevention”, or stopping violence before it happens.
It will address the culture that allows violence to occur and continue — including through challenging the social norms that support male authority and control over women and tackling the attitudes and beliefs that justify, excuse, minimise or hide physical or sexual violence against women.