News Parliament

MOTIONS - White Ribbon Day

I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this topic, which is very important, particularly for regional communities. As we know, 25 November marks White Ribbon Day, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Obviously, a very important part of White Ribbon Day is raising public awareness and changing the attitudes and behaviour that allow this violence to continue. It is testament to this effort that the White Ribbon movement has now spanned 57 countries.

Domestic violence is, as I said, a serious issue in regional communities, and particularly in the area of Orange in central western New South Wales, which, for some reason, has very high rates of domestic violence. But there is a dedicated team of people who are working hard to bring this issue to a close, to the extent that we can. The White Ribbon Day committee there does a fantastic job. It was formed in early 2016. I'd like to make special mention of a number of the committee members here today, including Chair Nicole Paterson, vice-chairs Granton Smith and Andrew Pansini, and also committee members Danielle Haase, Janelle White, Krista Mentjox, Darren Tindall, Alli Gartrell, Ash Morrow and James Cashen.

Last year they organised an event in Orange that was extremely well supported. It was a treadmill relay that went for 24 hours nonstop. It drew attention to the fact that 80 women were, tragically, killed in violent incidents Australia-wide in 2016. The relay kicked off with the committee painting a giant white ribbon on the sloping grass roof of the Orange Regional Museum. Each participant in the relay was given a small, handwritten card with the name and details of a woman who had died in violent circumstances in the preceding year, which, I think, really brought the gravity of the situation home for many of the participants and members of the public who passed by and were able to gain information on what the group was achieving. I participated in that relay last year. It had over 50 teams participating, and more than 300 local people registered to take a turn on the treadmill. I can only believe and imagine that this year's will be even bigger.

As I said, I participated in last year's relay and it was sad that we actually had to hold an event like that to draw attention to this issue, but I think you need to shine a spotlight on this issue in order to bring it to a stop, because the public need to be aware that this can't continue. I think that, for too long, domestic violence has been viewed by the community as a private matter between a husband and a wife, for example. But it's not a private matter; this is criminal behaviour. It's quite often degrading and disgusting behaviour. I think that if the general public knew the details of many of these incidents of domestic violence they would be absolutely appalled at what they learnt. I know that because, in my previous occupation as a lawyer, I came into contact with women who were victims of domestic violence.

I'd also like to pay tribute to the Wellington Domestic Violence Collective, Robyn Edwards, Nicolla Giddings, Loretta Stanley, Wendy Peachey, Helen Dowling, Sonsera Boles and Colleen Allen, for their work in raising awareness for White Ribbon Day and organising events in the Wellington community. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Rob Mitchell ): The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.