A new national plan aims to end violence against women and children “in one generation”. Can he succeed?

The Federal Labor Government has made delivering on its promises a central platform of the 2022 election campaign. On Monday, a key national policy was put in place – with the official launch of the next National Ten Year Plan to End the violence against women and children (2022 to 2023).

The national plan is an important policy that sets priorities for continued action and investment to address gender-based violence. It represents a shared commitment by all levels of government to issues such as prevention, early intervention, responses to victim-survivors and perpetrators, and recovery and healing.



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Important assets

There are several major areas for improvement in this second ten-year national plan.

Among its key principles are “advancing gender equality” and “closing the gap”. There is a welcome recognition of the role that deep-rooted issues – such as women’s inequality and the ongoing impacts of colonization – have in shaping violence in our society. There is also a commitment to a specific set of actions addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s experiences of violence under a separate action plan.

Another key principle is to “victim-survivor centred” and ensure that responses are “trauma-informed”. This is an important development for the national policy to combat gender-based violence. Listening to the experiences of victim-survivors is essential, as is ensuring that our laws, institutions and support services do not compound the harm already done.

Prevention and the important role of working with men and boys are receiving much-needed greater attention in the new plan. It draws clearly from our national framework for preventing violence against women and highlights the role we all have – including men – in addressing gender inequality and gender-based violence. .

This plan also puts more emphasis on intersectionality. It refers to recognizing and addressing the multiple inequalities that individuals face, such as gender, race, indigenousness, sexuality, gender diversity, and ability. There is an important and welcome inclusion of trans women in the national plan, and a recognition that cisgenderism and heteronormativity are linked to sexism and reinforce violence against people of all genders and sexualities.

Emphasis is vital on multi-sector approaches and workforce development to support the work of the national plan. This includes engaging in government and community with businesses, sports organizations, educational institutions, media and others over the next ten years. Building community capacity to better respond to and prevent violence against women is key to the success of the plan.

Main weaknesses

While the national plan aims for an Australia free of “gender-based violence”, much of the plan actually focuses on domestic, family and sexual violence. Other forms of violence directed disproportionately against women and girls receive little attention, such as forms of online harassment and abuse, labor exploitation, sexual exploitation and child abuse. children.

The plan makes little mention of the challenges facing the Federal Court and family law in responding to domestic, family and sexual violence in the context of rulings on parenting issues. Well-documented injustices occur in this context – and it would be a lost opportunity if the national plan did not seek to correct them.

Commitments have been made as part of the new plan to evaluate and measure its results. But the details are hazy, including the leeway given to the new family, domestic and sexual violence commissioner to report on these measures.

Governments have a lot of work to do under this plan – it will be important to ensure a rigorous, transparent and independent approach to monitoring progress.

Funding is always a key policy issue – it is unclear whether funding commitments made during the election campaign and under the previous government will be confirmed in the next federal budget. The plan will also need to be backed by adequate funding if it is to end violence against women “in a generation”.

The plan commits to three more specific “action” plans. Two of these are separate five-year action plans that will outline specific activities under the national plan. The first of these is expected to be released in 2023. A third is an action plan dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is in the implementation of these action plans that it will be possible to ensure that some of the potential gaps are filled.



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What is the next step ?

Our national statistics show that since the age of 15,

  • 1 in 2 Australian women have been sexually harassed
  • 1 in 4 women have been emotionally abused by a partner
  • 1 in 6 has been a victim of physical domestic violence
  • 1 in 5 has experienced sexual violence.

The next National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children is key to laying the groundwork. But its real impact will be seen through its implementation in the three action plans which have not yet defined the details of the activity under the plan.

The fight against violence against women and children and, ultimately, its prevention, must continue to be a national political priority. We must ensure that all Australian governments are held accountable for funding and implementing actions under the National Plan if we are serious about seeing this violence end within a generation.

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