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October 11 2018 By Patty Kinnersly, Our Watch CEO

As an optimist, I like to write about violence against women being preventable.

I share what the evidence tells us will work to make change and I often call on everyone to think about the community we want for our future, one that means every person in this country feels respected and valued and can contribute to a thriving and healthy community.  But even the most positive person will sometimes have their optimism shaken. 

In the past five days in Australia, six women have died violently. Since January 1, 62 women have suffered violent deaths. Family violence has been named by authorities as the likely cause in 70 per cent of these deaths. For a minute, I need to park my optimism and ask you to feel what is happening. 

Everyone reading this article has women in their lives who they love deeply: mothers, daughters partners, friends. Picture one of those women you cherish; now think of this, every one of those women is at risk of violence, even death. 

Violence against women is a national crisis. Women and children in our community are at genuine risk and we need to act. This issue cannot be allowed to ‘fall’ out of the headlines, slipping from the news cycle and our minds. 

When tragedies such as the murder of Melbourne comedian Eurydice Dixon or Cowes woman Samantha Fraser strike a nerve with the public, we see a huge spike in the national conversation around violence against women. But too often, and too quickly, this fades.  

As CEO of the national organisation dedicated to tackling the causes of violence against women, I see and hear the reality of this violence every day, which never makes it any less shocking or distressing. 

What I know, from the very best, peer-reviewed research in Australia and overseas, is that if we are to tackle this violence we must address its causes, and these are clear. The drivers of violence against women include condoning or accepting such violence, disrespect towards women, male peer relationships that emphasise aggression and rigid stereotypes about what women and men can and can’t be. 

In the wake of the #metoo movement, there is a new and welcome awareness of the extent of harassment and abuse of women, both in the work and home settings. But many are asking, what next?  

There is a tidal wave of justifiable anger in the community over violence against women, but also a powerful appetite for defining the next steps, both in terms of holding perpetrators accountable, and in preventing more abuse before it happens.  

Stopping violence against women before it starts will be achieved by action on many fronts – legal, social, educational and cultural – and it must take place across many sectors. This is why Our Watch works with sporting groups, schools, universities, young adults and State and Federal governments. 

The crisis of violence against women is a whole of community problem and working towards a solution is the responsibility of the whole community. 

Many writers and commentators, including Jane Gilmore and Sherele Moody, have rightly called on men to show their rage over this crisis and to join women in protesting and calling for action. 

Real progress in the battle against this violence will only be achieved if we harness our anger into action, as parents, teachers, coaches, colleagues and journalists, continually push for change, and working together as a whole community.

Pictured: Kristie Powell, Gayle Potter and Dannyll Goodsell. Photos sourced from The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald

Media contact: 

Saraya Musovic, Senior Media & Communications Advisor
Our Watch Media: 0448 844 930 
*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline: 
“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000” 
Click here to access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children.