What does the 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender-based violence mean for you?
The 16 Days of Activism campaign is about putting the safety and wellbeing of women and girls on the global and national agenda.
It is an opportunity for communities and workplaces to learn more about how they can actively be part of changing the culture that allows family violence and violence against women to occur – driven by gender inequality and bad attitudes toward women.
We are losing one woman per week at the hands of a partner or a former partner in Australia. That is a terrifying statistic. Things have to change.
In 2019, the Victorian campaign Respect Women: ‘Call It Out’ asks Victorians to safely intervene when they witness sexism, harassment or abuse. When these behaviours, such as leering and unwanted advances toward women, are intercepted early, they become less normalised. And we know these behaviours lead to family violence and violence against women. This is why primary prevention activities – stopping violence before it starts – will continue to focus on bystander intervention and I was pleased to relaunch the public transport campaign as part of the 16 Days.
What excites and motivates you in your role as Minister for Prevention of Family Violence?
I am motivated by the brilliant advocates and change agents that came before me. I have always said, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. I am fortunate enough to be a member of a gender-equal cabinet, with a progressive Premier and many powerful women beside me. We are here thanks to the many trailblazing women who have come before us. I have had many mentors along my political journey, who too have helped pave the way for more women in Parliament.
The victim survivors of family violence, and their families, are my greatest motivator. It is really for them, their families and communities that we do this work. Their tireless advocacy, expertise, resilience and strength are so exceptional.
I am absolutely resolute about the fact, that people deserve and have the right to be safe and thrive.
What is most challenging about your work?
One of the most challenging parts of this work, is that it is long-term work, and it will take time to see the collective impact and benefits.
It can be challenging to keep people on the journey of long reform, because this is deep rooted change that takes persistence and endurance, but it is a journey that will over time make an incredible difference and save lives, and one which must continue.
What strengths do you see in the community as Minister for Prevention of Family Violence?
I see resilience, hope and incredible tenacity and resourcefulness in the communities I visit. Whether it’s rural women in Victoria or the incredible multicultural women in my local electorate in Dandenong, I am constantly inspired by their curiosity, unwavering persistence and innovation. Every time I meet people and I hear their stories I am reenergised, and I reflect about how can I do better, do more?
If you could change one thing about the world right now what would it be?
If I could change anything right now, it would be to eradicate the need for a Minister for Prevention of Family Violence. Violence would not be a factor in our community.
If you weren’t working in government right now, what would you be doing?
It’s hard to say what else I would be doing, because I feel connected and very passionate about the work I am doing right now. I am very drawn to areas that make a positive difference to the lives of others and creates a space for all voices to be heard.
What’s the one thing you have achieved that you are most proud of?
The thing I am most proud of is our government’s unwavering commitment to ending family violence. We are determined to improve outcomes for women and girls in our community, in all aspects of their lives. That’s why we have put gender equality at the heart of our policy agenda. Like no government before, we have taken a whole-of-government approach to achieving gender equality with targeted action in every portfolio, improving the safety of women and children in our community – from the home to the classroom, the workplace to the sporting field, public transport to the television screen. Because we know, attitudes toward women have outcomes for women, and we need to address these in every setting.
Where do you recommend around Victorian Parliament for coffee/lunch/people watching/exercise?
For people watching during a sitting week of Parliament, you can’t go past Sessions café in the Parliament building. You are guaranteed to see MPs, Ministers and sometimes the Premier, popping out for food in between sitting duties and meetings.
For coffee, the Spring St Grocer across the road is always good.