Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton has urged communities across Western New South Wales to get involved in a national campaign on how disrespect towards girls can grow into something more serious.
Stop it at the start aims to help families, teachers, sports coaches and others challenge their own views about respectful relationships and gender equality, and start a conversation with young people.
Launched in Canberra by the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, and Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, the campaign is jointly funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.
Mr Coulton said violence against women was a widespread issue affecting many Australians.
“The statistics are shocking. Every week a women is murdered by her current or former partner and one in three women has been a victim of physical or sexual violence, since the age of 15, from someone known to them,” Mr Coulton said.
“But many of us often don’t realise where it begins – with the attitudes and behaviours our kids develop as they grow up.
“As adults, the things we say and do when we see disrespect towards girls have a real impact. Casual comments like ‘boys will be boys’ teach boys that it’s okay to act that way. Telling girls ‘he just does it because he likes you’ teaches them that they should simply accept disrespectful behavior.
“This escalates to one in four young people not thinking it’s serious if a guy, who’s normally gentle, sometimes slaps his girlfriend when he’s drunk and they’re arguing.
“Our words are powerful and our influence is strong. What we think and do becomes normal for us very quickly so it can be hard to challenge ourselves.
“But we can be more aware that the excuses we make have a lasting impact. We can start having conversations about respect. And we can intervene and correct this behaviour in young people when we see it.”
Advertising starts on Sunday 24 April, supported with online tools and resources, community engagement and a number of other activities that will run until 2018.
The campaign is one element of a national, long-term strategy to reduce violence against women and their children. It is underpinned by the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.
This campaign is on top of the Coalition Government’s $100 million Women’s Safety Package announced in September last year, which includes funding for developing innovative ways of using technology to keep women safe for example, GPS trackers for perpetrators, safe mobile phones, and safety devices for homes. This package also enhanced and extended support services, including 1800RESPECT, Mensline and DV-Alert, as well as supported local caseworkers in domestic violence hotspots to better co-ordinate community services.
Visit www.respect.gov.au for more information on the campaign. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.