Ambassador Dr Brendon Hammer
Permanent Representative of Australia
26th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
Side Event: Prevention of Violence against Women in MIKTA Countries1
25 May 2017
Thank you John, and thanks to my fellow Ambassadors from Mexico, Indonesia, Korea and Turkey for their excellent contributions today.
As many here know, we MIKTA countries have been working together since MIKTA’s formation in 2013. The idea is to harness the benefits that can flow from sharing the diversity of our national experiences.
Through this process, we’ve found we have many shared interests, many common goals and many common causes.
Gender equality is a high priority for the Australian government, and a core priority for MIKTA.
In addition to being an issue of natural justice, we have found that gender equality is vital to achieve the wider goals of development, security and economic growth.
Let me first say that Australia has made gender mainstreaming in criminal justice policies a focus for us at this year’s CCPCJ.
We are very pleased to be able to partner with Mexico to run a resolution on this topic.
The Resolution focusses on the importance of considering the needs and experiences of both genders in order to have criminal justice strategies that are effective and comprehensive.
I commend the resolution to you.
But right now I want to focus on Australia’s experiences in addressing violence against women.
And let me concede from the start that violence against women in Australia is unacceptably high.
Recent findings within my country indicate that one in three Australian women have been physically attacked in their lifetimes; and one in four women have experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
So we know we have work to do.
And I’d like to share with you three initiatives that we’ve been undertaking:
- first, a prevention campaign seeking to change social attitudes;
- second, addressing technology facilitated abuse;
- and third, a cultural change we are seeking to drive within our police forces.
So – on the prevention campaign – we call it: “Stop it at the Start”
Here we’ve recognised that violence against women is often facilitated through a structural inequality in power relations between men and women.
Our research shows that while most Australians agree violence against women is wrong, there is a tendency to:
- Be too permissive of disrespectful behaviours towards women and girls
- Blame women victims for violence
- And emphathise more with the male side of a situation.
Our research also shows that excusing disrespectful and aggressive behaviours towards girls and women is learned from a very young age.
Recognising the seriousness of this, the Australian Prime Minister has become a strong proponent of the need to address these attitudes.
He has stated that though not all disrespect of women results in violence against women, this is where violence against women begins.
So in Australia we’re seeking to challenge the ideas and behaviours that allow violence to occur
Accordingly, “Stop it at the Start” is aimed at parents and family members of children aged 10 to 17 and at influencers such as teachers, coaches, community leaders and employers.
The campaign aims to help break the cycle of violence by encouraging adults to reflect on their attitudes and have conversations about respect with young people.
The campaign involves a mix of advertising, PR, education, community engagement and corporate activities.
Advertisements have been placed on television, at transit sites like buses and trains, in cinemas, and digital and print media.
In fact, one such advertisement went “viral” on social media, with over 40 million views – showing this method can really reach people.
Stopping technology facilitated abuse
A second Australian initiative aims at combatting technology facilitated abuse.
Technology facilitated abuse can include the use of mobile phones as tool of intimidation and cyberbullying, and non-consensual sharing of intimate images on social media.
Australia’s approach has been to appoint an eSafety Commissioner
This Commissioner’s office has several projects underway, including:
- an eSafetyWomen initiative to train frontline service providers to assist victims of technology facilitated abuse;
- developing an online reporting tool to enable victims to report incidents;
- and education of over 130,000 people on online safety.
So far over 180 serious cyberbullying complaints have been resolved.
Australia has also partnered with our giant telecommunications company Telstra to issue victims of gender-based violence with “safe phones”.
This enables women to safely maintain their connections in the community without fear of violence or intimidation.
Cultural change in the police force
Both women, and men, have important roles to play in addressing crime. Tthe presence of female police officers can improve law enforcement responses to crimes that disproportionately affect women while support and commitment from men is vital to effective responses.
The Australian Federal Police has publicly recognised that it needs to reflect the community it serves in terms of diversity among its ranks and through its standards.
So our police have been implementing a cultural change program to address low representation of women, and sexual harassment issues within the police force.
And there will be future reviews to assess progress.
I thank you for your time, and I hope hearing about the Australian experience has proven useful to you.
We know our reforms will take time, but we are committed to them and to the ultimate goal of eradicating all violence against women and girls.
1) MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey, Australia)