White Ribbon Day Motion | SPEECH


That this house—

(a) recognises that 25 November 2015 is White Ribbon Day;

(b) recognises the great work of White Ribbon Australia in raising the profile of the issue of domestic violence;

(c) notes that men play an important role in helping combat domestic violence; and

(d) encourages businesses, sporting groups and other community organisations to get involved with White Ribbon.


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 11:48 :57 ): I rise to support this motion and thank the member for Fisher for bringing it to the house; I think it is a very important thing to do. I have done so in previous years, and I am pleased to have others doing exactly the same sort of thing.

When you consider the statistics the member for Fisher has just shared with the house, this is atrocious stuff and completely unacceptable—and almost all avoidable. Whenever you have bad things happening that are avoidable, it is dreadful not to take action. We all have a role in that as members of parliament, and I think the White Ribbon Foundation is an international leader in this field. I am very proud to be a White Ribbon Ambassador. I acknowledge the fact that the member for Mitchell has recently become a White Ribbon Ambassador and that there are ambassadors on both sides of politics in South Australia. I think that is very important.

Interestingly, the White Ribbon Foundation recently changed its oath. The oath used to be to ‘never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women’, and the foundation has just changed that oath to ‘I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.’ I think that is a positive change for one reason specifically, and that is that the oath really does highlight the fact that it is a men’s issue to change. It is overwhelmingly almost exclusively a matter of men committing domestic violence against women and children, not 100 per cent but pretty close. It is men who are doing this and it is men who need to lead the charge to stop it and take the greatest responsibility.

Of course, there are very good men and women working in this field all over my electorate, and I have expressly identified many of those people and organisations in this house previously, and I will not do so today. All over my electorate and all over South Australia there are people working incredibly hard to address this issue.

The White Ribbon Foundation, as I said, is an international leader, but we should also acknowledge any individual person who tries to make a difference within their own community because this is everyone’s problem. It is all our responsibility to do that. It is completely unacceptable to have a woman dying every week from the easily preventable circumstances. It is completely unacceptable that one in three women will have been affected by domestic violence in some way and that it can easily be prevented.

White Ribbon certainly has some outstanding programs. As the member for Fisher mentioned, the school-based and the workplace programs are incredibly important. Over the last few months, all White Ribbon Ambassadors have been asked to go through a recommittal process, and that recommittal process includes a fairly thorough training and, to a small degree, testing process to be absolutely sure that White Ribbon Ambassadors understand the issues that they want to work for and the issues they want to fight against in their communities. I am very proud to have gone through that process. Every White Ribbon Ambassador that you see anywhere in the community from now on will have gone through that process.

I think that is important because, if you really do want to be a leader and if you really do want to make a difference in whatever area it happens to be, you do need to step up yourself and improve the way you go about it on a fairly regular basis. I think the fact that the White Ribbon Foundation is asking White Ribbon Ambassadors to do that is very important.

I think it would be entirely appropriate for this Parliament House to be a White Ribbon accredited workplace. I think that would be a tremendous development and something that we could all be very proud of. Whether it is members of parliament or other staff in whatever role people might happen to work in, we are all people and we all have a responsibility. I am sure we all feel exactly the same way about domestic violence. I put very firmly on the record that I think that would be a tremendous thing for Parliament House to do as a work place, and I will take this matter up with the Speaker and the President of the Legislative Council to see whether they feel that that is appropriate for this workplace that they oversee.

I would just like to provide some insight from a local perspective. When I say local, I am talking about the Yorke and Mid North district, which covers three of our electorates here. It covers Goyder, Frome and part of Stuart. I would just like to read part of an article that appeared today in the Port Pirie Recorder, entitled ‘Big demand from victims of violence’:

Domestic violence cases have flared to more than double the average rate in the Yorke Mid North district including Port Pirie.

The statistics are kept by UnitingCare Wesley Country SA and its Yorke and Mid North domestic violence services manager, Trish Rollins, describes the figures as ‘astounding’… In 2014 ‑15, the service reported that 230   women and children had experienced domestic violence.

But in the first quarter of this financial year—from July to September—145 women and children have been affected, more than double the quarterly average in the previous year.

The article goes on to say, in the context of what the reasons might be for those statistics:

‘We have more women coming forward to identify that they are in domestic violence relationships,’ she said.

I raise this because it affects my electorate, because it affects a few other electorates. It comments on Port Pirie, but I am sure this would relate equally well, unfortunately, to Whyalla or Port Augusta or many other regional centres. This is in the news today in Port Pirie, and it is real; it is important, and it is something that we all need to know about.

I would like to just talk briefly about the fact that the article raises: the statistics are going up in part because more people are coming forward. That is a double-edged sword, isn’t it? It is a good thing that people are prepared to come forward, where previously they might not have been prepared to come forward. It is a good thing in that it gives us more knowledge and more understanding, and more facts and figures and statistics to deal with, so that the problems can be addressed more appropriately, more effectively. It is unfortunate that the numbers are growing, but maybe there is some positive news that we can all use within that growth in statistics, because the growth in statistics probably does not reflect a growth in incidence; it probably does, as Ms Rollins has said, reflect a growth in people coming forward as well.

This is a problem for all of us. I am not nearly as familiar with metropolitan Adelaide as other members here are, but I do know that it is a very serious issue in metropolitan Adelaide. I again commend the member for Fisher for bringing this motion to the house. I would also like to acknowledge the member for Reynell, with whom we jointly, recently, established the Parliamentary Friends United against Domestic and Family Violence group.

I urge all members of parliament to support and participate and engage with that group the best that they possibly can, because that group has been established to try to help members of parliament and other people connected to parliament—it is not exclusively for members; certainly staff are very welcome as well—to, firstly, improve their knowledge about domestic violence and learn more about what is actually happening and, secondly, improve their knowledge and engagement with people and services which can help them with regard to addressing domestic violence. Thirdly, it can help them move on to really making a serious solid contribution within the electorates that they represent. Having gained the knowledge from steps one and two, as I said, they can then go to their electorates and really make a difference, so I ask all members of parliament to actively and genuinely participate with us in that.