The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) wishes to focus public attention on the worldwide tragedy that International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on November 25, represents.
HREOC President, John von Doussa QC, Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes AM and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma are once again White Ribbon Day Ambassadors.
"It is not only an international tragedy that we need to have a day to symbolise and draw attention to the prevalence of violence against women in all societies throughout the world," said Mr von Doussa. "But worse that we, as a nation, must take this day to reflect upon the fact that we consider Australia to be a sophisticated 21st century country, yet violence against women is one of our greatest social problems."
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey Australia (2005) found that over 400,000 men were perpetrators of violence against women and almost 1.3 million Australian women had experienced physical and sexual violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15.
"If this tragedy is to be stopped, men must unite with women to make it clear that violence against women is not acceptable in our society under any circumstances," Mr von Doussa said.
"The basic philosophy of human rights is that we should all live free from fear, harassment and discrimination," said Commissioner Innes. "The fact that so many Australian women live their lives with violence means that their human rights are being infringed upon, often on a daily basis. As a nation we need to stop on November 25 and think about why White Ribbon Day exists and look to what we, as individuals and a society, can do to change things for the better."
"Promotion needs to be backed up with action," said Commissioner Calma. "Support services, such as early intervention and prevention programs, and specialist family violence services, to which men and women can turn, are essential in combating this sort of violence and abuse in our society. Continued awareness and innovation, coupled with public and government support for such organisations and programs is absolutely essential, particularly in regard to Indigenous people and communities."
Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, said "I am particularly heartened by the cross-section and calibre of men who have chosen to be White Ribbon Day Ambassadors – it sends a powerful message to the Australian public. The greater the number of men who speak out as role models to say that violence against women is wrong and not to be tolerated, the greater the chance of combating the problem within our community. Freedom for women from discrimination, harassment and violence is one of the three main themes that I will be discussing with the Australian public during my ‘Listening Tour’, which commences the day after White Ribbon Day."