Chris Hayes, Federal Member for Fowler, NSW, speech delivered in Federal Parliament relating to the work of Neighbourhood Watch Australasia and the Family Violence Brochure.
Fowler Electorate: Domestic Violence Forum – 19 June 2014
Mr HAYES (Fowler—Chief Opposition Whip) (12:43): I welcome the visitors from the Good Samaritan Catholic College in my electorate, the school captains Brian Kane and Carla Donoso together with teachers Mick Bell and Mary Sayadi.
Last week, together with Neighbourhood Watch Australasia and Fairfield City Council, I hosted a family violence forum in Cabramatta. The forum served to launch a diagrammatic brochure produced by Neighbourhood Watch Australasia as part of their push in terms of the family violence campaign particularly directed at the multicultural communities of the country. The campaign titled Community Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility aims to send a strong message that family violence is a community issue and one that should not be and cannot be ignored. The brochures target ethnic communities who may be challenged in terms of language by visually communicating a strong message against family violence aimed at the victims, perpetrators and the community at large.
Ingrid Stonhill, Chief Executive Officer of Neighbourhood Watch Australasia, who was also present at the forum, was accompanied by Neighbourhood Watch representatives Margaret Pearson and Clare McGrath from the ACT. I would like to thank Ingrid and, in particular, Pat Leary, President of Neighbourhood Watch Australasia, for taking part in this initiative, for taking a very strong leading role and for focusing this campaign clearly on family violence in multicultural communities.
Being the most multicultural community in Australia is something my electorate and I are truly proud of. We revel in the colour, the vibrancy and the cultural diversity that that provides. There are, however, challenges posed by, in particular, language and cultural barriers. That is why it is critical to clearly communicate the information associated with legal processes and community expectations in areas with a high level of migrants, particularly in relation to this issue of family violence itself. Empowering the interaction between the police, victims and perpetrators is another crucial tool in the fight against domestic violence.
Domestic violence represents a large proportion of the work of our local police. New South Wales Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Murdoch was also in attendance with a number of police officers, and they gave their full support to this initiative. In my local area, over 50 per cent of all assaults reported to the police are domestic violence related. I am told by Assistant Commissioner Murdoch that almost half of all homicide cases also involve domestic violence. One woman in Australia
dies every week from domestic violence. Last year in New South Wales, 24 women were killed as a result of domestic violence and, regrettably, that included one young mother of three in Miller in my electorate. This is not surprising considering the statistic that one in three women is likely to become a victim of violence in her lifetime, while one in five is likely to experience sexual violence. Also in attendance were representatives from the Liverpool and Fairfield migrant resource centres as well as Bonnie Women’s Refuge Ltd. These organisations play a key role in distributing the information associated with this campaign.
Family violence is a serious issue for the community and law enforcement agencies throughout Australia. It should be on the top of our national agenda, not just when we come together to commemorate White Ribbon Day, but constantly. Domestic violence is truly a horrific social problem. It has an immense and continuing impact not only on victims but also on Australian society as a whole. The message being communicated through these brochures at last week’s forum is that it is vital for the functioning of our community and for future generations that we address the issue of domestic and family violence. This is an essential message and it is one that we do need to get out: domestic violence is not a private issue. We need the community to take a stand and to declare that enough is enough. We also need men to pledge never to commit, excuse or be silent about domestic violence.
I commend Neighbourhood Watch Australasia for their hard work to make sure that the message reaches those who might otherwise miss out on this vital information and for creating safer communities for all Australians.