The National Summit on Women’s Safety (Summit) took place on 6 and 7 September 2021. Almost 400 people, including people with lived experience of gender-based violence, academics and researchers, advocates, business leaders and parliamentarians came together to discuss how we can work together to end violence against our women and children.
Under the current 2010-2022 National Plan, governments have worked to establish key infrastructure and strengthen service responses to prevent such violence, including though the establishment of support structures such as 1800RESPECT and the Stop it at the Start campaign. These provide specialised services, emergency accommodation and safe at home programs and work across sectors to provide a holistic service system.
The Summit discussions mark the beginning of the next National Plan.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have a once in a generation opportunity to create a policy framework to drive the cultural and systemic change needed to prevent violence against women and interrupt the patterns of behaviour that enable the violent and abusive behaviour predominantly used by men.
Summit participants heard from expert panellists who shared emerging evidence highlighting effective practice. The National Plan will continue to build on a strong base in primary prevention to stop violence before it starts. It will aim to achieve long-term attitudinal, cultural, systemic and behavioural changeacross the gender drivers of policies, practices and structures that reinforce gender inequality and individual behaviours and attitudes.
These National Plan discussions can be summarized as so:
- Financial freedom: An expert panel explored the interactions between women’s economic security and independence and their safety, including the need for action to prevent financial abuse and the provision of more secure housing. The panel discussed the role that governments, organisations and employers are taking and can play in preventing violence through gender equality initiatives.
- Prioritise working with men and boys to disrupt and prevent the attitudes and behaviours that can lead to violence, and seek to engage men in leadership positions across the community to articulate the need for change.
- Recognise the importance of justice and healing from trauma and the need for government support to allow healing from undisclosed and unresolved trauma caused by domestic violence.
- Emphasise that addressing men’s violence against women and children must be targeted across all settings, including work, education, public, institutional and other community spaces, as well as at home. This must include prevention work addressing dominant forms of masculinity, rigid gender stereotyping and male peer relations based on aggression.
- Continuously improve the justice system to ensure people impacted by family violence are able to achieve justice and people using violence and abuse are held to account, and explore alternative transformative strategies to prevent and address violence.
- Recognise that ending violence against women is everybody’s business and everybody has a leadership role to play, particularly business.
- Prevention must be our focus, to stop violence before it starts
- Achieving gender equality is key to preventing violence
- Affordable, accessible long-term housing
- The experience of women with disability must be listened to and embedded in all prevention and responses
- Children and young people must be visible in the next National Plan and be considered in their own right
- People living in regional, rural, remote and very remote areas must have access to appropriate and quality services
- A whole of community response is required to eradicate the scourge of gender-based violence. All settings need to be able to better respond to the experiences of victim-survivors and enable people who use violence and abuse to start the journey to changing their behaviour.