Independents urge government to address domestic violence 'emergency'

‘Men need to hear this’: Independents call on the government to address domestic violence ’emergency’

Headshots of Allegra Spender (left) and Zoe Daniel (right)

Independent MPs Allegra Spender and Zoe Daniel have issued a call to action on domestic violence in parliament, speaking about the national crisis and the need for men to step up.

Prior to Question Time in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, the two teal independents used their 90-second member statements to highlight the “national emergency” that is family and domestic violence in Australia.

On average, one woman is killed every week by her former or current partner, and a Indigenous woman is eight times more likely to be murdered by family and domestic violence than her non-Indigenous counterpart.

In her 90-second member statement, Allegra Spender MP, who represents the division of Wentworth in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, said while the nation-wide statistics are shocking, the impact on the local community is devastating.

“Domestic violence is not confined to just one part of the country, and, sadly, my community in Wentworth is not immune,” the independent MP said.

“In fact, police commanders tell me that domestic violence is responsible for around half of the police work in our local area, and I’ve heard countless heartbreaking stories of women subjected to this terrible abuse.”

Spender said local support services for family and domestic violence is “absolutely critical”, yet lack of government funding hinders the reach of these services to the women and families who need it most.

For example, The Lokahi Foundation, which operates in Wentworth, was nearly shut down last month, after government funding for the organisation was not renewed. 

Spender also noted another organisation, JewishCare, turns away up to ten people every day who are seeking refuge from family and domestic violence.

“It is absolutely critical that the government continue to fund domestic violence services, particularly in my community but also around the country, and I call on them to do so,” Spender said.

Shortly after, the independent Member for Goldstein in Victoria, Zoe Daniel MP, delivered her 90-second member statement, similarly raising awareness of the desperate situation that is family and domestic violence in Australia.

Daniel’s message, however, was targeted at the men of Australian, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“Men need to hear this,” the independent MP said. “For way too long, women have shouldered the load of driving the conversation about violence prevention, basic decency and respect.

“Violence against women is a men’s problem. Men, today I ask you to be the ones to step in and to know the steps you can take to move from being a bystander to being part of the solution.”

According to Destroy the Joint’s Counting Dead Women, 16 women have been killed by gender-based violence in Australia. Just over the weekend, Western Australia Police charged a 30-year-old man with the murder of 22-year-old Mauwa Kizenga on a suburban street in Perth. She was walking home with another woman before she was allegedly stabbed at about 8pm on Saturday night.

“We live in the supposed lucky country,” Daniel said in her statement, “and yet we count dead women.”

“Experts know what’s needed: crisis housing, legal services, frontline services, prevention, better data and sustained funding. But they, and we, need men to show leadership to bring the change.”

Daniel finished her statement calling on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to stand up against the epidemic of violence against women – not just as the leader of Australia, but as a man.

“I say to the Prime Minister: you have to lead this, to be that man,” Daniel said. 

“Use your authority from the most powerful office in this land and please speak as a man to men. 

“It’s a national emergency. Enough is enough.”

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