SPEECH - TANYA PLIBERSEK - SPEECH TO AUSTRALIAN WOMEN: LABOR’S PLAN FOR WOMEN LAUNCH - MELBOURNE - FRIDAY, 26 APRIL 2019

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TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

SPEECH TO AUSTRALIAN WOMEN: LABOR’S PLAN FOR WOMEN LAUNCH
 
MELBOURNE
 
FRIDAY, 26 APRIL 2019
 
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY**

Isn't Van Badham just the best? And Jana could you stand up again please? That was just the most beautiful, beautiful Acknowledgement of Country. We are so lucky to have you as a candidate and so fortunate that you can share the story of your Nana Kelly with us today. Thank you very much for that. And I want to join with everyone in the room, in acknowledging the traditional owners of the land that we're meeting on today and paying my respects to elders past and present. 

Now, I've got quite a few colleagues here today and I'm really nervous I am going to miss one out. So what I'm going to do is ask all our Federal MPs and Senators to stand up, and give the room a wave.

And do we have any State MPs with us today?

So then I'd like to ask our Federal candidates to stand up please. 
Now, just indulge me for a second, let's get the candidates, and the MPs and the Senators to stand for a second time. Because, this is - this is actually the group that we want to see in Canberra, after the next election. 

Today, I'm here with this united Labor team to say that equality doesn't happen by accident.

Even though it’s 2019 and equality is long overdue, the fight for equality requires leadership, commitment, drive and of course, resources.

In the time that I am talking to you, police will be called to more than three domestic violence incidents across Australia.

On average, one woman a week is murdered by a current or former partner.

Yesterday, I woke up to the front page headline "Father pleads guilty to family massacre". Mara Harvey, her 3 year old daughter Charlotte, her 2 year old twins Alice and Beatrix and her mother Beverley were stabbed to death.

Today, we awoke to another murder, Natalina Angok.

The names of these women stay with me. The names I've heard all my life: Janine Balding, Anita Cobby. More recently here in Melbourne, Eurydice Dixon, whose rapist and murderer is on trial today.

How many more women, just living their lives, will lose their lives to their partner, to their former partner, to some stranger who follows them on the street? And what does it do to the rest of us? How do we change our behaviour? How do we restrict ourselves - tell our daughters not to go out at night? Lie awake, waiting for them to come home. Elevated heart beat as we're walking home ourselves, listening intently for footsteps behind us. It affects the behaviour of all women, because all women carry this subtle fear of violence around with us every single day.

I want the culture of this country to be a culture where no Australian fears violence.

Where no Australian fears violence.

Ending violence against women and their children has to be a national priority; and as an Opposition we've made some very important commitments already. Linda Burney has been leading our work in this area and she has done an absolutely magnificent job already.

Commitments like $88 million for a safe housing fund, flexible financial support when it’s needed, ten days paid domestic violence leave, and 250,000 additional National Rental Affordability Scheme properties over a decade - so that there is a place for people who are fleeing violence to go as they rebuild their lives. We've made commitments to important legal services too, and it’s wonderful to have Mark Dreyfus here today.

I'm very proud to announce in addition to all of these existing commitments, that a Shorten Labor Government would invest $62 million in local grants for family violence prevention initiatives.

Local services are the front line of support and protection at times when women are at their most vulnerable. They are the trusted services within each of our communities that deliver programs for women and kids. They provide outreach for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse groups, and First Nations victims of violence. Services like the ones that many of you who are in this room today have worked in or supported all of your lives.

Too often, victims of family violence are let down by our social security system.

The Liberals' cuts to the Department of Human Services have made this much, much worse. With people waiting for hours on hold, on telephone lines, or giving up all together.

To make sure that Centrelink can better help women and children escape family violence, Labor will invest in 25 family violence specialists to make sure that victims of violence won't have that experience of being put on hold for hours at a time.

So that their safety is our first priority.

And we'll make sure there's a dedicated family violence phone line where people can get immediate advice and support.

We know that if you're leaving a violent relationship, keeping up with the paperwork is probably not top of the list of priorities for you. So we'll also work with Centrelink to allow people escaping family violence up to four weeks to claim crisis payment. Because anybody at their time of crisis should get the support they need.

We know the importance of responding to violence, to giving help to people when they need it; but of course, preventing the violence in the first place is so important too. 

We need to break down those attitudes that lead to violence in the first place.

So, a Shorten Labor Government will invest $35 million over three years to deliver Respectful Relationships education in more than 3,000 Australian schools.

Because schools, as well as being places of learning, are often the first place that kids form serious bonds with people outside their family. 

They're where respect and equality can be modelled, shaping the attitudes and behaviours that our children will take into their adulthood. 

Respectful Relationships education equips young people to form safe, healthy relationships when they're ready to and to treat their peers with respect.

I'm a mother of three children, two of them are teenagers at the moment, and - I do worry so much about the information that teenagers are getting about relationships, so much of it is coming from bad sources, damaging sources: early viewing of online pornography, sexting, the social media negativity that we hear so much of today. 

More respect and better behaviour in our schools also means a better learning environment for our kids and better long-term student outcomes. 

Ending violence and economic independence go hand in hand; and that's why we've already announced that we'll take action to close the gender pay gap.

And, of course, the superannuation gap, as well - we've committed $400 million to that. 

We'll make sure that all our girls - and our First Nations girls in particular - get better mentoring to have a successful experience through school and go on to TAFE or university or work after school, as well. 

We'll make sure that our health system supports women too, with our first ever National Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy to give all Australian women access to safe and affordable reproductive health services. 

And, of course, we'll drive down the cost of cancer treatment - breast scans and so on. 

We didn't just make this stuff up. 

These policies - you've all got the booklets in front of you, you see that I've only covered a fraction of them in my remarks today. They have come out of extensive work by our Status of Women Committee - particularly under the leadership of Sharon Claydon. The Status of Women Committee have travelled all over Australia, they've talked to thousands of women and, more importantly, they've listened to thousands of women. 

That's how we develop policy. We've got the best policies because of that consultation during the six years that we've been in opposition. But we also, as well as having the best policies and the best Status of Women Committee, the best Members of Parliament, the best candidates - you know where I'm going with this, don't you? 

We've also got the best leader. 

Bill has been a supporter of women's equality ever since I've known him, every conversation we've had in public and, most importantly, in private, he has told me how important gender equality is for him and how important it would be for him as prime minister. 

In contrast, we've got Scott Morrison out there saying, on International Women's Day no less, that it's not a good idea for women to get equality because it might come at the expense of men and that the discussion of women's reproductive health was "divisive" apparently - not really sure why? 

We've also, of course, got Michael McCormack and - for those of you who don't know - he's the leader of the National Party and also the Deputy Prime Minister, but Michael McCormack who said and - truly, this is no joke, when he was asked if the Nationals have a problem with women, he said - he said "No, both of our women are Ministers." 

Both of them are. 

It is likely that there will be more men named Andrew - which is wonderful - in the House, in the House of Representatives after the next election than there will be Liberal women. It is likely that there will be more men named Andrew in the House of Representatives after the next election than there will be Liberal women. 

We in contrast, if we are successful at winning this next election, will hit our 50:50 target six years ahead of schedule. And I think a lot of you were at that National Conference, not the last one, the one before, where we set that 50:50 target and you'd remember it was actually Bill that was arguing for it. It's a very different Labor Party to the one I remember in 1994 where we had to fight and win that first 35 per cent target and it makes me so proud that everybody in this room has been part of that change.
 
I can tell you one of the most important, one of the most important elements of this change is having a leader who gets it.

We don't need to lobby him about equality and women's issues - he just gets it. 

It's my great pleasure today to introduce Bill Shorten.