A confronting new government ad campaign targeting domestic violence, urging Australian men to “stop it from the start” and stamp out potential steps toward violence before they can take root has been launched by the Australian government. It’s the ad looking to eradicate even small and ‘minor’ disrespect, to remove the excuse that “boys will be boys.”
A young boy slamming a door on a girl as a “joke.” A tubby tween being berated by his dad for throwing “like a girl.” A tense argument in a car.
The $30 million campaign was unveiled by Social Services Minister Christian Porter and Minister for Women Michaelia Cash on Wednesday. The TV advertisement, titled “Respect,” travels between time periods in the life of a boy and girl, aiming to illustrate how disrespectful behaviour towards women can turn into something darker. The government said the ad is targeted at “influencers” — parents, family, teachers, coaches, community leaders, employers — to “become more aware of what they say and do.”
“People know that violence against women is wrong; what they may not know is that we — all of us — can unknowingly excuse and therefore perpetuate the behavior that can lead to violence,” Porter said.
“Our research shows that too often, adults believe that disrespectful or aggressive behaviour by young males towards young females is something that should be understood rather than judged and discouraged. Research shows adults often unwittingly excuse objectively unacceptable behaviour with notions such as ‘boys will be boys.’
“It is also clear from our research that too often adults blame the victim by asking what a victim may have done to invite what should simply be recognised as unacceptable, disrespectful behaviour.”
Cash echoed the sentiments, saying it was about setting standards for right and wrong “right from the start.”
“This campaign will help role models realise the impact of what they say and help them start conversations about respect with boys and girls,” she said. “From early on, adults are a focal point for children to learn about respectful relationships between men and women.”
Greens Deputy Leader and spokesperson for women, Larissa Waters, said she welcomed the ad but called on the government to “urgently reverse its cuts to crisis services and boost funding” which were instituted during the Abbott administration.
“We absolutely need to raise awareness and change attitudes about domestic violence and gender equality but doing so without boosting funding to crisis services, which are currently having to turn women away, is dangerous,” she said. “The Turnbull Government still has not reversed Tony Abbott’s cuts to new refuges or housing affordability programs. It also hasn’t overturned Tony Abbott’s 30 per cent funding cut to community legal centres, including women’s legal services which help women escape violence, scheduled for 2017.”
The new federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, used her speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday to outline her priorities, and said domestic violence was one of her top priorities.
“We have to address the prevalence of violence against women and girls in this country. It is a disgrace. We must become a community that has zero tolerance for violence,” she said.
“Australia has a disturbingly high rate of violence against women, whether it be domestic and family violence, sexual assault or sexual harassment in the workplace. And the fact is, and the research is now indisputable, that gender inequality lies at the heart of much of this utterly unacceptable violence.”
The most recent Personal Safety Survey, undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, found that : “Between 80 and 100 Australian women die at the hands of their male partners every year – and a woman in Australia is more likely to be killed in her own home by her male partner than anywhere else or by anyone else.”
Domestic Violence Laws in Queensland
Meanwhile, in Queensland, the Palaszczuk Government has passed landmark laws to make non-fatal strangulation a separate offence under the Criminal Code, in a further move to strengthen Queensland’s response to domestic and family violence.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the creation of the new offence of strangulation was a recommendation of the Special Taskforce on Domestic Violence report Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic Violence in Queensland.
“Choking, strangling or suffocating a person is now an offence in its own right with a maximum penalty of seven years jail,” Mrs D’Ath said. “The Palaszczuk Government has listened to the concerns of the community and we are taking action on the recommendations made by the Not Now, Not Ever report. Recognising that strangulation is a serious crime in its own right will serve to strengthen our response to this type of violence within the criminal justice system.”
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman said the Palaszczuk Government has accepted all 121 recommendations for government action contained within the Not Now, Not Ever report.
“We know strangulation is a pivotal moment that reveals an escalation in the seriousness of the violence committed against a person in the context of domestic and family violence,” Ms Fentiman said.
“The offence of strangulation is an important part of the package of legislative amendments the government is implementing to tackle domestic violence. These important legislative changes will support the safety and security of victims of domestic and family violence while we embark on a broader education and awareness campaign to drive real change on the terrible burden of domestic violence in our community.”
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