Bye bye bystander

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Activism is so hot right now. Fashion journalists are writing books about it, the #MeToo movement continues to swell in size and reach, and our social feeds are exploding with crafty protest signs. Yet Australia’s culture of violence against women is at crisis point.

This Sunday’s historic women’s march is slated to see more than 10,000 participants converging on Hyde Park at 11am - including me.

If you’re a little shy of throwing on your Louboutins, don’t be. I was never really protest-y, until I became one of the statistics several years ago. It forced me to realise that urban, highly educated, upwardly-mobile white women like me were just as vulnerable to domestic violence and assault as any other.

I spoke to Hayley Foster, the Director of Women’s Court Advocacy Service NSW –the peak body for the 29 Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCAS) state-wide - about why this Sunday’s march is so critical, and have 5 key reasons for you to stand in solidarity this Sunday:

20.01.19: Five Reasons to March

1.     NSW is not safe: The most dangerous place for a woman to be in NSW is in her home. Intimate partner violence is the leading preventable cause of death, disability and illness for women aged 15 to 44 years[1].

2.     Show us the money: NSW, despite becoming the first Australian state to have a net worth of a quarter of a trillion dollars in 2018, while net debt reached a historic low of negative $11.2 billion[2], has invested less than 0.02% of its’ budget on specific domestic violence interventions.  

3.     We need to change the system: Women and children should not be forced to flee their homes because of violence. The NSW Government needs to invest in a system which defaults to supporting women and children to remain in their homes and communities safely. 

4.     Cultural cringe: It’s time for our government to put its money where its mouth is and start investing in and creating programs that change the outdated and unacceptable attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate violence against women.  

5.     Use your vote: Issues of women’s safety continue to rate as marginal priorities for the majority of elected members of parliament, despite the fact that there are more women than men in Australia[3].

Find further details and march tickets here, and learn about WDVCAS NSW here.

[1] VicHealth, The health costs of violence: Measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate partner violence (2004); Webster, K. (2016). A preventable burden: Measuring and addressing the prevalence and health impacts of intimate partner violence in Australian women (ANROWS Compass, 07/2016). Sydney: ANROWS.

[2] NSW Government: Half-Yearly Budget Review (2018), www.nsw.gov.au

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017), www.abs.gov.au

ActShastri Haines