Fiona Richardson MP, State Member for Northcote

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Children at Fairfield Primary School will have more room to learn and play after the Andrews Labor Government bought land to expand the school. The school extension, on land purchased at Wingrove St, directly across from the school, will provide more space and new buildings to cater for the growing student population. Fairfield Primary School is close to full, yet the number of new homes being built in the area is expected to grow significantly in the next 15 years, which will put more pressure on local schools. Fairfield Primary School is one of 12 schools, including Alphington Primary School, that the Andrews Labor Government will buy land for, with $102 million allocated for this in the 2016-17 Victorian Budget. This will fund the first stage of Fairfield Primary School’s extension project. The Labor Government is building the Education State so that every child has the opportunity to get a great education, and every community has access to a great school. This means delivering the money needed for new buildings, new upgrades and entirely new schools to ensure all students have access to the facilities they deserve. The Labor Government invested $200 million in the recent Victorian Budget to better maintain our existing schools, and more than $924 million to build new schools and upgrade classrooms. This includes $375 million to plan, upgrade and rebuild at least 147 schools – 87 of them in Melbourne’s suburbs and 60 in regional Victoria. The Labor Government has also funded the planning, land acquisition and building of 23 new schools around the state. Quotes attributable to Member for Northcote, Fiona Richardson MP “Fairfield Primary School is close to capacity and the expansion of the school will help cater for the population growth we are expecting in the area.” “This is the first step towards a bigger and better Fairfield Primary School.” Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We’re getting on with the job of building the Education State so that every child has access to a great education and gets the support they need to reach their potential.” “Improving school facilities at Fairfield Primary School will help our highly skilled and experienced teachers deliver better outcomes for our students.”

Community Efforts To Protect Local Trees Recognised

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville, has supported the efforts of Member for Northcote, Fiona Richardson, to advocate for the safe removal and storage of 70 palm trees during an essential water main replacement by Melbourne Water along St Georges Road. The St Georges Road water main, which runs underneath the centre median strip in St Georges Road, Northcote, is almost 100 years old and at the end of its service life. Replacing the critical water main will mean removing all vegetation, including the palm trees, from the centre median strip. Ms Richardson has been working closely with the local community to find a solution that would enable the fully mature palm trees to be removed and stored offsite during the construction of the new water main. After close collaboration with Ms Richardson and Melbourne Water, Ms Neville determined the palm trees should be preserved and further community consultation should be taken in regards to reinstatement. Melbourne Water is continuing to work with Darebin City Council, key stakeholders and the community to develop a final reinstatement plan which balances the needs of cyclists, pedestrians, tram users, motorists and the obligation to supply safe, reliable drinking water. Quotes attributable to the Hon Lisa Neville, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water “The local community have said they want these trees to remain and I’m pleased that we’ve found a way to protect such an iconic part of the neighbourhood, while still allowing essential works to continue.” “Over the next few months Melbourne Water will be holding community engagement sessions to give everyone a chance to have their say about the reinstatement of the St Georges Road median strip.” Quotes attributable to Fiona Richardson State Member for Northcote “What a win for Northcote – Melbourne Water has confirmed a ‘like for like’ re-vegetation plan for the St Georges Road median strip. Shade for cyclists, streetscape maintained and community valued.” “A special thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly on this project, it has been a pleasure advocating on your behalf.”

Listening Project – Transcript

Today marks the ninth day of the Victorian Government's Victoria Against Violence, 16 days of activism initiative. Probably many of you, like me, are wearing your orange today and you have seen this town lit up orange, and I know it goes far and wide. So you know we're in the midst of something remarkable and very special indeed. To date, the campaign has seen a number of significant events designed to educate and raise awareness about the devastating impact that family violence has on the lives of so many. Violence affects too many families here in Victoria. In 2014-2015, the number off family incident reports submitted by police rose to 70,906. I want to comment on that number for a moment; 70,906. We mention every single one because every single one is one person's family and one giant group that is affected. Staggeringly, more than one in three Australian women, 34 per cent, has experienced violence from a partner or ex-partner. Perhaps what's more staggering is that we're now accustomed to that number, we've heard it many times and yet that number is far, far too high. Since announcing Australia's first Royal Commission into Family Violence, the Victorian Government has been listening to and talking with people affected by family violence. The Government believes it is an important issue to listen to and that the stories of people affected by violence are the most important because through those lived experiences shared with all of us, more than understanding can be gained, and most crucially, things can be changed. Last week, Parliament hosted a series of landmark speeches from family violence survivors and first responders, which gave parliamentarians an opportunity to hear directly from survivors, and that isn't always done. First responders and survivors are crucial to hear on this issue as we try to address family violence. At this special sitting, an important contribution was made by Rosie Batty and others, and we know that's going to continue today, and we appreciate all of you who will be addressing us. PO Box 745 Indooroopilly QLD 4068 AUSTRALIA Ph 1300 662 173 or +61 7 3378 2668 Email Web The Listening Project Transcript test redaction.doc Page 3 of 65 Today's conference aims to provide a voice for family violence victim survivors to share their stories, to advise government on the reforms they are hoping to see following the Royal Commission into Family Violence. In essence, how do we fix this? How do we change this? How do we prevent this? We're very pleased that all of you have shown your commitment to this issue by joining us here today, and we're delighted that you're going to participate. You'll be hearing from a range of speakers, some of whom have an individual story to tell about their own experience with family violence. We realise that today's session may bring up difficult issues for some of you, and you may need to debrief or talk to somebody about how you're feeling. If today's conference and what you hear does in any way bring up anything that's difficult, please note that we have a family counsellor who is here to talk to you. They're available to support you and all you need to do is go out front to the reception desk and they'll put you in touch with them. So don't hesitate to speak up if you need to talk to someone. Before we commence today's presentation, I'd like to address a couple of housekeeping issues. You're familiar with the first one; make sure that your mobile phones are off, or if they're not off, at least on silent. If you want to do that for us, that would be very much appreciated. We're going to break for morning tea at 11 o'clock in the morning after which there will be some half-hour workshops. I think this is an exciting part of what we're going to be doing today, an opportunity to take what you hear in this chamber, go back and talk in smaller groups about what to do. We'll talk about specific aspects of the family violence system and how survivor voices might be harnessed to improve the situation in the future. Now, probably most of your already have had the opportunity to nominate to workshops that you want to participate in. If you haven't, then go ahead to our reception, see somebody wearing orange andwe'll make sure that you get to a session and that you're able to participate. After the workshops, we're going to reconvene here to report back on the key outtakes from each discussion with the Minister, and we'll get to that in just a moment. I also wanted to mention two more things. You may see a photographer who is here today taking pictures - there you see him - and I wanted to let all of you know that although he will be snapping photos, he will only be taking pictures of the people who are speaking, so do not be concerned about that. I also wanted to let you know that when you have an opportunity later one, and I'll remind you, to speak, that you'll have a microphone button next to the microphone, so all you need to do is press that button and we will all be able to hear your valuable contributions. Now I would like to introduce Minister Fiona Richardson to officially commence the 2015 Listening Project. I would like to introduce you to the Minister for Women and Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, Fiona Richardson. Minister Richardson has been the Member for Northcote since 2006. As all of you in this room know, she's been a strong voice for improving the lives of women in her electorate and also all across the state of Victoria. Last week she and the Premier launched the Victoria Against Violence campaign and with Australia's first Royal Commission into Family Violence delivering its findings next year, it is obvious to me and I know it is to all of you here today that she is dedicated to this issue and dedicated to solving this diabolical and critical social issue. So now, would you join me in welcome Minister Richardson. [Applause] Fiona Richardson: Thank you very much, Sara. It's a privilege to be here today actually speaking in a different part of Parliament House and looking out across Parliament House and seeing such a wonderful set of faces and people and those that are passionate about addressing the concerns with respect to family violence. It feels very strange to be here as a Parliamentarian addressing the forum in this way, but it is such a privilege to be here doing that with you. Can I welcome all of our speakers, in particular our delegates and our community members. When we look around Parliament House, sometimes we can feel a little bit intimidated by its form and structure and the like, but this is truly your House. So having you here today and hearing your voices is obviously a very important part of what we as a Government want to achieve. I do want to give special acknowledgement and thanks to Annette Gillespie or her efforts and Safe Steps' efforts in bringing today's event together. Kristine Olaris as well, the Women's Health East CEO, the work that she's undertaken. In particular, I want to thank them for all the work that they do empowering victims and survivors to gain the confidence to speak out and to be heard, and for all the support that you've given me as well as Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence. Also, we have with us Catherine Andrews and Chloe Shorten. I've done very many events over the last 10 days of the 16-day campaign and these very strong and outspoken women have been with me every single step of the way. In fact, I feel a little like they're keeping me in check; if at any time I might stray they're there to say hang on, this is what we need you to do, but I do appreciate your support and encouragement. I do. I would before I begin also like to of course acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we stand and pay my respects to Elders past and present. Last week in Parliament we saw in fact something happen for the first time, which was an Aboriginal woman address parliamentarians here on the floor of State Parliament. The fact that she was a woman, the first Aboriginal woman, was certainly not lost on me or any of the speakers, or MPs in fact, that were there on that historic day. Muriel Bamblett when she spoke, spoke passionately about the concerns for her people and she spoke about the long-term harm that has in fact been inflicted upon Aboriginal people. I would say that the best way of honouring the legacy of the people of the land on which we meet is to remain committed to working in sincere and lasting partnership with their children and their children's children. To those survivors of family violence that are in the House today, I know that it is difficult to do what you are going to do today, and I thank you for your courage and for your preparedness to share your wisdom with us. Why we're here today is because historically, victims' voices have been silenced or ignored. It's one of the very many reasons we have a broken family violence system; it's because we have shut out those that we should be most responsive to, and this clearly has to change. The power of victims', survivors' voices is immeasurable, and of course we saw that in the Parliament last week. It's no coincidence that it's been a woman and a victim, a survivor of family violence, and a mum, that has been the person who has actually been the tipping point for Australian political life in addressing this issue. That woman of course is Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty. As a Government, our Premier leads a Government who wants to see a world-class family violence system, and to do that he knows, and I know, we must listen and embed ongoing listening mechanisms to drive innovation and accountability of people like me. We need to shine a very, very bright light for all the years that it's going to take to address the crisis, and your voices matter. When we listen, we need to remember to listen to all victims and survivors, from CALD and Aboriginal backgrounds and people with disabilities and the LGBTI community. We need to listen to young people and to our Elderly because family violence is affecting people from all walks life and at all stages of their life. Can I say too, I represent the one-in-four category. I am a childhood victim of family violence. Can I say that their voices too need to be remembered and brought to the fore as we tackle the harm of family violence. I know each and every one of you who are victims of family violence, you know that those experiences never leave you. Can I say on behalf of all children victims of family violence, I will do everything that I can to ensure that their voices are heard and responded to. Today is an opportunity for us to listen and pay respect to the stories that we hear. Joining those of you who are survivors of family violence are people who will be working on the future direction of the family violence system. It's important as we do this work of reform together that we remember deeply the reasons why we are doing it. Today, the Sentencing released details of its report and it talked about the number of breaches that had taken place with respect to family violence intervention orders and it highlighted that a third of those breaches had been met only with a fine, a mere slap on the wrist. I think as we think about how we hold perpetrators accountable, it's victims' voices and the survivors' voices that we need to give due regard to. When I was listening to the media reports this morning, it occurred to me that when they spoke of a change in culture that had happened amongst our police force, that change in culture actually started with the police making the decision to become victim-centred in their response. I thought that's a very, very important lesson for our Government as well. Some of you I know will be giving voice to the experiences of people who are no longer with us, people who have lost their lives to family violence. I want you to know that our Government is highly committed to honouring their memories and is working with you and the community on ways we can do that in a more public way together. Once again, I'm humbled by your attendance and your confidence in our Government's commitment to hear from you and to learn. Thanks for being here. [Applause] Sara James: I believe we have a special audio-visual presentation, so I would now like to have all of you join me in taking a look at the screen, and we'll hear the remarks of Professor Leigh Goodmark, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Frances King Carey School of Law. Leigh Goodmark: Hello from the United States, and thank you so much for inviting me to be part of your conference. I wish I could be with you to hear your stories, to share stories with you and to meet together about how could I build a better response to domestic violence. In Australia, as in the United States, we've constructed what are essentially one-size-fits-all solutions to domestic violence that largely rely on the legal system. We use civil protection orders, we use criminal justice intervention, and we haven't been particularly vocal about whether those tools are as effective as we want them to be, and what we might do otherwise. In fact, these interventions work very well for some people but they don't work particularly well for other people. They're perfect for something; they do nothing for others, and for some they permanently hurt the people who they were meant to help. What we need to be thinking about are the ways in which we can reconstruct the legal system to be more responsive to the needs of the victims of domestic violence and ways to think beyond the legal system in our responses. I just want to suggest a couple of things for you this morning that you might think about. Even for those who want to use the tools that we provide through the legal system, there are things that we can do to make the system more responsive to their needs [unclear]. These ideas really focus around time and information; people need more time and more information in order to use systems effectively. They need time to consider their options, instead of making major life decisions in the middle of traumatic events. We could imagine police coming to the scene and explaining to someone what their options are without requiring them to make a life-changing decision right in that moment, and [unclear] information and understand the ramifications of these options. We can again imagine at the scene of a domestic violence somebody being told not only what a criminal justice intervention looks like or what a protective order looks like, but what other options might exist for them; what they can realistic expect the system to provide and what alternatives might exist. Then for those people who are not interested in using state systems, quite frankly we offer them very little at all. If you don't want to use the legal system, at least in the United States, we offer you almost nothing. But that could change. We could think about ways to provide economic supports to people subjected to abuse, and to their partners, as studies show that economics and abuse have a really complex relationship and that domestic violence is more likely to occur in families that are not privileged economically. We might think about how we might provide better resources for those families. We might think about community-based justice and the ways in which we can empower the community to assist people subjected to abuse and to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions without punishing them in ways that might just increase abuse down the line. We could rethink retributive punishment, we could rethink how we respond to perpetrators of abuse, and we could rethink the ways in which we provide those services. For example, through restorative justice [unclear]. We could think about restorative justice as both part of a state-based system and as something that's separate from the state, for those families who don't have an interest in coming into state-based systems. These are just some of the other steps that we might be able to explore if we were willing to move beyond our current conceptions of what people subjected to abuse might then need. I wish I was there to discuss these ideas with you personally. I'm so excited to hear about the results of your conference, I look forward to hearing about what comes out of your deliberations over the next couple of days and wish you a successful conference. Thanks. Sara James: As you can see on the screen, we're now going to hear another presentation, this also from David Mandel, founder and managing member of David Mandel & Associates. These are two people who unfortunately couldn't be here with us in person but felt strongly enough about what we're discussing here that they sent these messages. David Mandel: Hi. My name is David Mandel, and I'm honoured to be participating by video in this one-day event focused on listening to and learning from the voices of family violence survivors. Before I begin my formal remarks, I want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the country in which you are meeting and pay my respects to Elders past and present, and the Elders from other communities who may be there today. This event, which is part of the Victorian anti-violence initiative and coincides with the United Nations 16 days of activism against gender violence comes at a time of [unclear] and transformation in Australia. Events, activism and research are all pointing us in the same direction. We can no longer think about child abuse and family violence as two separate issues. We can no longer blame adult family violence survivors, usually [unclear] on the behaviour of their partners. In fact, we can no longer ignore the family violence perpetrator who is often a father, boyfriend or another male [unclear]. The signs of the need for change are everywhere, whether it is the murder of Luke Batty by his father, who also abused his mother Rosie, or the study of New South Wales which shows that 61 per cent of deaths of children known to the child protection system have family violence as a background, or the studies that correlate the family violence with the deterioration of family function. With what we know about the breadth and depth of the problem, we can no longer accept outdated practices that are often destructive and traumatic to families. In the past, many professionals believed that when children are exposed to family violence, it was the behaviour and choices of the mum that needed to change. In the past, we often heard that the problems [unclear] mean that the family violence survivor was responsible for harm the children experience. We often heard that the real issue was that the mother didn't understand the impact of the violence on her children or was picking the boyfriend over them. These [blaming actions] and the associated actions by professionals in systems often push women and children away from the assistance they desperately needed and wanted, and sometimes even escalated the danger to the family. Today, we are coming together because we want to [unclear] adult and child survivors of family violence. We are looking for new ways of thinking and new approaches to practices. These efforts will be measured as successful by one standard alone: are they improving the safety, self-determination and quality of life for family violence survivors? Today we come together to listen to the voices of survivors in order to become better partners to them in their unsung daily effort to protect their children and themselves. Based on our work in creating domestic or family violence informed child protection systems in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, we've [unclear] systems and want to move away from a better-protect mentality and to replace that thinking with a perpetrator pattern-based approach to the issue of family violence and children. A perpetrator pattern [unclear] tells us that it is the family violence perpetrators [unclear] choices, not the adult survivors that creates the risk of harm to children and families. To practice from a perpetrator pattern-based lens we need to look at the multiple pathways of harm from the family violence perpetrator behaviour. Physical violence to the mother, children being injured by the perpetrator, and related trauma are just the starting point for this conversation, but we can't stop there or we're going to fail to align ourselves with the reality of the family. We must also see the entire picture of how [unclear] family functioning often in a synergistic and cascading fashion. The choice to act violently to his children's mother can have all of the following effects. Physical injury may cause her to miss time at work and lose her job. He then loses his job because he was arrested. Both of these things just [unclear] impact on the financial security of the family. The mother and children may flee to a new location causing academic, medical and social disruptions. The mother and children may end up in poor housing and become isolated from friends, family and traditional community supports. The relationship between the mother and her children can become attenuated, difficult and even violent. Now, in that cascading impact of family functioning multiplied by months or years of verbal abuse, economic control [unclear]. While these effects are all possible in a community, they are of course more likely to have even more destabilising effect. The family is already stressed by [substance use], mental health issues, economic discrimination, cultural oppression and racism. Usually, a perpetrator pattern-based approach provides for a far more comprehensive and accurate picture of the harm to the family caused by the family violence perpetrator, that the [whole idea was to] complete our assessment of the children by just asking if they saw or heard an incident of violence. This approach, which is [unclear] perpetration of violence enforces control as a parent in choice, helps us work better with the entire family. It forces us to be more thoughtful about the impact of men in general and functioning. In the past, we've mostly assessed the functioning of mothers and rarely the functioning of men as parents. It is important to state that the vast majority of men are now [unclear] to the families. Most of them are making positive contributions to the physical, emotional and financial health of their loved ones. When we look for the contribution that's positive or negative for men as parents in all families, we were more likely to identify the [unclear] abusive event on the family functioning. Higher expectations of men as parents challenges all to find new and better ways to support the men who genuinely want help in becoming better fathers and partners, and to punish and hold accountable men who continue to be dangerous and unchanged. A perpetrator pattern-based approach is also synonymous with better [unclear] the adult family violence environment, because we become more focused on her strengths, her acts of resistance to violence, our acts of [unclear] and healing the trauma and the steps she takes to promote the stability and nurturing of her children. the perpetrator pattern-based approach throws out better-protect and replaces it with strength-based partnerships with the adult family violence survivor where she gets full credit for her parenting [in a foxhole]. Finally, this approach helps children because it ensures that we are partnering with a parent, usually the mother, who is [unclear] invested in the safety and wellbeing of the children. In the trickiest aspect of this approach, we were also responding to the desire of many children for safe and healthy relationships with their father, even one who's been abusive. When we keep focus on the perpetrator's behaviour and not their educational level or economic or cultural background, we're more likely to take the right approach to the perpetrator, whether it's a referral to a managed behaviour change program, prosecution, incarceration, or other methods to improve the situation of the adult and child family violence survivor. By making this change to a perpetrator pathways approach we are taking a huge step forward in addressing the gender imbalance of the state [unclear] level, policies and practices, and we are putting ourselves squarely on the path to become better allies to women and children experiencing family violence. I want to thank you for inviting me to speak to you today and wish you all a productive and meaningful day together. Sara James: A lot to consider in those two presentations. A couple of things that came across to me with David Mandel, most importantly, stop blaming the mother, and also put the focus firmly on the perpetrator. And from Professor Goodmark I thought it was very interesting that she talked about this as not one-size-fits-all, in fact sometimes things that we do with an attempt to help can actually wind up harming families. And finally, this thought which we can tease out later about what can be done beyond the legal system, that the legal system is potentially only one avenue that we can use to address this issue. So thank you for those remarks from our overseas guests. Now we would like to come right back here in Victoria to hear from people in this room. I now have the privilege to introduce our first speaker to you, Kristy McKellar and an advocate here in Victoria. Kristy was viciously assaulted by her former partner who was found guilty of recklessly causing serious injury. His 14-month jail term was overturned by the County Court, which instead imposed a community corrections order. Concerned by the failings in the family violence system, Kristy became an anti-violence advocate and now works with the Attorney-General's Department, the Royal Commission and Victoria Police to help formulate family violence policy. Kristy's work has successfully led to the implementation of new legislation here in Victoria and has contributed to the recent Victorian Parliament landmark event addressing members of the Legislative Assembly and Council in a unique setting in Parliament House. Will you join me in welcoming Kristy McKellar to the podium? [Applause] Kristy McKellar: Well, firstly I wish to acknowledge the Honourable Fiona Richardson for establishing such a meaningful conference. This is a powerful platform for survivors' voices. Survivors demonstrate immense courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward to share their truth so others know they are not alone and so they can influence change. Today I am privileged to be the voice on behalf of many that despite experiencing the most confronting times of your life, have been able to piece by piece bravely take your lives back. Survivors are uniquely positioned to bring important context and insight into the debate. Investing in survivors being trained and supported to speak out is invaluable. Over half of our population today still think that most women could leave a violent relationship if they really wanted to. Why didn't you just leave? This is one of the most painful questions you could ever pose to a victim. It is incredibly dangerous to leave an abuser. The final step in the pattern can be escalations of assault or even death. For us as a community to still tolerate these attitudes is incredibly dangerous and it supports significant consequences. Knowing the devastating impacts of family violence, it is disappointing that violence against woman is still being accepted, justified and even excused. I had never known violence could exist in a man before my experience. I was confident, educated, successful but still I was not immune to this encounter. I became a victim of unspeakable cruelty, suffering extreme and unrelenting forms of violence, intimidation, control and abuse spanning from physical, verbal, psychological, financial to sexual. Being tormented behind closed doors and have it disguised as love was inhumane. To hold a secret of this kind was soul-destroying. I could see no way out and I just thought this would be my life. There are repeated promises for reform and failed attempts of rehabilitation. The promises remain empty. The assaults I endured were intentional, they were planned and they were calculated. My mobile phone often being hidden, placed on silent or broken before attacks. At times my perpetrator would smile during assaults, feeling powerful seeing me terrified. The first time I attempted to hold my perpetrator to account this resulted in requiring physiotherapy on three separate occasions to rectify my injuries, leaving me with a fractured vertebra behind my rib. The abuse escalated through my high-risk pregnancy when I was being treated with chemotherapy. It deeply saddens me that my daughter's family violence experience commenced from utero and continued after her birth. Holding her tightly in my arms whilst being forcefully kicked in my shin, the impact breaking the plaster wall behind us. Animal abuse was evident in our family home. I witnessed the perpetrator throw our pet dog over a handrail off our decking and down a flight of six stairs onto a brick-paved ground. On the final assault, my perpetrator dissolved my chemotherapy medication in water. He placed his hands around my throat and began to choke me. All I could do was to look him in the eyes with mine and beg him to allow me to live. As tears streamed down my face, he showed no emotion at all. By the time my perpetrator made a choice to allow me to breathe again, I had almost been rendered unconscious. Immediately I was then struck severely to the head. The impact was so significant that I lost my hearing in my right ear. Gradually, my hearing returned across the following day. I had my body exposed intentionally, inappropriately viewed, and was then indecently assaulted whilst berated with sexist and degrading comments. The over one-hour-long brutal attack occurring whilst my 20-week-old daughter lay in her cot in the next room, the attacker then raising a glass [unclear] above us as I stood shaking in front of her cot. The perpetrator's final words to me as he left were, I will hunt you down, and I believed him. I suffered multiple injuries, later forming 21 confronting photographs that were submitted as evidence in a criminal court hearing. After this attack, due to the shock and trauma my body was subjected to, my breast milk deteriorated. I lost the ability to feed my daughter. This intimate bond and attachment was taken away from me. After almost four years of living a life that no one should have to endure, I was able to break my silence and gain police protection. The focus of the system's attention was centred on this one severe assault that the charges pertained to. My history of the years of violence felt minimised. Violence included being struck to the face with a pillow and doona days after having cartilage-grafting surgery, breaking the plaster cast splint from my face. Whilst bleeding on the floor, the perpetrator began rationalising his behaviour, stating he had used soft objects to assault me with and demonstrating apparent remorse by providing me with a face washer to aid the bleeding from my nose. I was taught a lesson that I'm not sure I could ever imagine having to learn in my lifetime. I learnt that love from a man should not leave you bruised and lying on a floor. Love should not leave you choked and out of breath with tears in your eyes. Love should not leave you begging to please stop. I learnt that love should never be cruel and that no love from a man should make you wish you would die. Upon pressing charges, I was informed by police that my perpetrator had a prior criminal history. I was married to a man I did not know at all. After pressing charges within two days the perpetrator commenced transferring money out of our joint banking account and eight days later he moved his entire salary into a new account, leaving my daughter and I with no financial support at all whilst I was on unpaid maternity leave. It took only seven weeks before my perpetrator commenced breaching the intervention order, breaching on six occasions, leading to obtaining a five-year order to protect us. I then became a victim of the justice system. After a confronting two-day hearing in a magistrate's court the perpetrator was found guilty of the crime and the breaches committed, despite pleading not guilty. He was sentenced to 14 months' imprisonment. The sentence was immediately appealed; the offender was released on bail and free to walk out alongside me into the community. Eight months later I was then re-traumatised in a three-day hearing in a County Court, having to relive the ordeal once again. The County Court reduced sections of my victim impact statement before allowing me to read it, effectively sending me a message that I must remain silent, again. The perpetrator continued to plead not guilty; again was found guilty, his sentence severely reduced to simply a two-year community corrections order, serving merely 250 community hours. When this sentencing outcome was handed down, my world was turned upside down. The system failed to protect us. It left us unseen, unheard, as if we were nothing at all. I felt utterly powerless, vulnerable, overwhelmed and defeated, and I did not know how to now keep us safe. I was required to move house twice, change my vehicle, be [alarmed] 24 hours a day, install CCTV cameras at my home to remain undisclosed and to feel safe. I was the one more harshly sentenced. I received a lifetime sentence. What type of a justice system re-assaults victims and leaves them fearing for their life? What type of a system does not recognise nor prioritise children's rights? My daughter may not have had the language skills to articulate her story to the court as I did, but this did not mean that she was not affected by her early exposure to family violence. What kind of a system is so traumatic that it contributes to devastating health consequences for victims, which often go unseen, a system so gruelling that my chemotherapy treatment failed as my body began to shut down, resulting in me being placed on organ transplant treatment. The failings and gaps within our family violence system can no longer remain ignored or receive disproportionate attention. Moving forward, I hope to see commitment to ensuring that when victims bare their soul to the law they can be confident that their rights will be given reality in everyday practice. I hope to see recommendations endorsed that will lead to the implementation of various policy and reform improvements to better protect victims' safety, wellbeing, and to hold perpetrators to account. It is encouraging though to see Victoria leading the way, setting a standard for a system that works as a whole, both reliably and consistently, supporting victims in overcoming the unrelenting obstacles courageously. Both power and obligation sits with all of us to shape and change a future system that provides victims with justice, respect and validates their violent experiences, a system that invests in prevention and leads to gender equality, advocacy, intervention, education and information sharing, providing well-resourced, sustainable, targeted, quality services to individuals in need. I see great potential for system enhancements, restoring confidence for survivors that we are measuring progress and that we are moving in the right direction. To have a bold Victorian system that sends a message. We can still do the impossible after we have been through the unimaginable. We should never underestimate the important role each of us play in changing lives, enabling individuals to live the lives they have imagine but just never thought possible. Together we have the power to create change and to rebuild lives. Thank you. [Applause] Sara James: Thank you so much, Kristy. What courage you have, what determination, and what a powerful reminder to all of us of our power here in this chamber, and not only our power but our absolute requirement to change things for you and for all of the people who are victims - thank you very much - and most importantly, are survivors. It is now my pleasure to introduce Tarang Chawla, a White Ribbon Ambassador, writer, and victim advocate. We have talked about the horror of domestic violence and we have talked about how horrifically it sometimes ends. Tarang's sister, Nikita Chawla, was a performing artist, a choreographer, and tragically, a victim of men's violence. Nikita was murdered by her partner at January at the age of 23. Following his sister's murder, Tarang has been advocating for the needs of victims and survivors of men's violence. He has written and spoken publicly about the human cost of gender violence at the Our Watch Awards, presenting at high schools, in workplaces around Victoria. He has published in Fairfax, in News Limited media, and also appeared on ABC, SBS and Indian radio. Would you join me in welcoming Tarang Chawla. [Applause] Tarang Chawla: I too would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we're meeting. I pay my respects to their Elders past and present and to Elders from other communities who may be present today. Thank you to the Minister for today's vitally important conference, and thank you, Kristy. That was one of the most touching things I think I've ever heard, and I stand here in admiration of your courage and your bravery and your strength to get up and to speak about your experiences so candidly and so openly. I feel privileged. I also want to acknowledge and pay my respects to all the survivors, the victims and their families who are present today. In today's address I will be referring explicitly to family violence homicide and things that I say might be triggering and I've been informed that counsellors are present, so if at any time you need to leave the Chamber to seek support, or if anything is distressing please do. I will not be offended if you need to leave this space. As Sara mentioned, my little sister Nikita was murdered on Friday 9 January 2015, aged 23. It was the middle of a hot summer. The Christmas tree was still up, and we'd barely had time to even break our New Year's resolutions. Everyone was returning work, but my family's life changed in a heartbeat with a knock on the door from two uniformed Victoria Police officers. Niki's untimely and brutal death was the end of an abusive and controlling relationship with a violent and possessive individual. Our only comfort now for her family is that she's now beyond pain and suffering but she shouldn’t ever have been killed. In October the man responsible pleaded guilty to her murder and as this offender is currently awaiting sentence in the Supreme Court of Victoria on 17 December for his crime, I don't talk about the case or the specific abuse and manipulation and pain that Niki suffered during her time with him. Instead, I talk about us, Niki's family, her friends, her community, and all of us who bear the loss of every woman who's killed by an intimate partner. I talk about us because we're the ones left behind. Together we have the knowledge and power to prevent violence from ever occurring and we have a duty within each of us to support survivors and victims of family violence and men's violence against women. For us, Niki's death under such tragic circumstances was obviously horrific; that much is obvious, but it was also illuminating for many in our personal community and the wider Indian community in Melbourne. Previously, we'd only heard the stories of violence on television. We'd been moved by the story of Luke and his mother Rosie's courage. We'd see occasional mutterings in the news or we'd read about a woman who'd been murdered by someone that she trusted. We knew that it was a problem, but it wasn’t making the front page. It wasn’t like terrorism. It wasn’t viewed as a problem of such magnitude, even though the violence that's being committed every day against women in our communities is far worse. We almost foolishly thought that we might be immune because Niki was intelligent, driven, ambitious and was well on the path to achieving her career goals at just 23. She had the promise of blossoming future, but violence doesn’t discriminate. Its victims are not from a particular suburb or from a particular ethnic group, or a particular job. Worse still, its perpetrators aren't necessarily drug-affected, mentally impaired or impoverished. They are otherwise unremarkable men who seem normal, who exist amongst us in the community, but that harbour attitudes towards women that are damaging and downright dangerous. What scares me is that Niki's death isn’t in isolation. Family violence homicide isn’t a freak accident or an occasional tragedy. I don't need to tell everyone here that violence against women is common, but others who grace these walls may need reminding that it is. It occurs frequently and it happens in every community in Australia. My sister Niki is one of 78 women who have lost their lives to violence this year. Since her death, I've met many victims and survivors and I advocate on their behalf. To those who have survived, I'm with you. To those who have suffered, I am with you. To those who have lost someone they love, I am with you. I feel your pain and I understand your heartache. I wrote to the Royal Commission into Family Violence earlier this year on the forms of financial and psychological abuse that were unique to Niki. What I said then is that support services can be improved to better deal with the nuances of different cases of family violence, especially in cross-cultural situations. Multiculturalism is our state and nation's asset and it must factor into our family violence response. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work and it cannot work. We all come before the law and the family violence system with our individual circumstances and the system must then support and respond to victims in the way that is most appropriate in each instant case. Since my sister's death, I've witnessed firsthand a shift in how our society as a whole treats family violence. It is heartening that at least this progress is gaining momentum. It's heartening that this Government is one that is committed to preventing family violence, but I need remind everyone that this progress and newfound attention for this issue does not come without stern caution. There was a time in recent memory where violence committed in a domestic or family environment was deemed wholly unworthy of public discussion. There was a time in recent memory where the law of provocation was enshrined in statute to excuse and diminish the moral culpability of perpetrators. I completed law school in 2011 and it was during my time there in the early years that that law was abolished, but it still exists in courtroom narratives as it did in the case against the man who murdered my sister. It was then and in other ways now still is a valid defence for men to say she made me do it. I am 28 years old and there was a time in my lifetime when the Crown would not even prosecute male perpetrators, and the courts were still discussing whether murder committed in a domestic environment was a less heinous category of the offence. That discussion was in 2014 in a Court of Appeal case. As you can see, that time was not long ago. The law can sometimes be slow to adapt and it often plays catch-up. Violence against women is a prime example of this. Yet sometimes the law manages to move quickly in response to what it perceives as a significant societal problem. This is where not all violence has been treated equally. In recent times, someone was quick to label a drunken man punching another in an alcohol-fuelled disagreement as a coward's punch. The term stuck. Our politicians used it. We used it ourselves and the media reported it. We were so shaken by its reported frequency, we didn’t like what it said about our society, government acted swiftly and modified sentencing to increase jail time for those convicted of inflicting a coward's punch. We effectively said that when men were punching or killing other men in public, we could fix this problem and legislate against its perpetrators. I stand before you to say that we need such fervour and action to hold male perpetrators of family violence responsible. Fortunately, owing to the work of many people here, victims and survivors are at least beginning to receive long overdue recognition. Seventy-eight women have been murdered at a time when family violence makes the news, but for lasting change and a reduction we need to focus on key issues. There are governments across Australia and companies who have acted in part because they are shocked by the financial burden of family violence; it hurts the bottom line. We're told that violence against women costs our nation $21.7 billion annually. But dollars aren't the only reason to act; in fact, I think they should take a back seat. $21.7 billion, yes it's a shocking figure, yes it highlights the extent of the problem, and yes it creates incentive to address the issue. That incentive of course is a good thing, but it doesn’t go anywhere near to addressing the root of the problem, the deeply problematic truth that underpins family violence, the truth that things aren't equal between women and men, the truth that men's violence against women robs victims and their families of their dignity, their humanity and in the most abhorrent of examples, their life. $21.7 billion shifts the focus away from the real problem, making men accountable and responsible for their violence, making men acknowledge how and why they behave in the way that they do towards women and children. A dollar figure as a reason for action devalues women. With every victim there is a story and with every death there is a legacy. Focusing on a women's demise, or the financial burden of her death, dehumanises her. These 78 women have had their future taken from them. They aren't just a number. My sister isn’t just a number. The eradication of family violence will require a sustained commitment from government towards lasting cultural change, and addressing systemic gender inequality. And of course it includes appropriate support for victims and their families. Since Niki's murder we've received an outpouring of community support. People write to a page that I manage, the Justice for Nikita Facebook page, and they share their stories and offer their sympathies. But somehow amongst all of this we've also endured despicable criticisms and victim-blaming. Someone wrote to me that Niki got what she deserves. Another said, what did the dumb bitch think he would do? Others blamed me or my parents. Remarkably, very few people blamed the person who made a conscious decision to act violently. To pick up a meat cleaver and inflict a minimum of 35 chop and stab wounds to my sister's head, face, neck and scalp; he murdered a defenceless and vulnerable young woman in her sleep. This is a societal problem for which only we have the solution. This isn't just up to government, this isn't up to law enforcement and this isn't just up to the courts. When violence is committed against women in our community, we have a problem with attributing responsibility where it lies: with the perpetrator. We need to each, despite what we've all suffered, have the courage to challenge and change this attitude. When women are murdered as a final act of control by a man, we've taught ourselves to think and say what did she do and not why are men violent? Sadly, such attitudes are formed at such a young age that it can be difficult to change them. But as Ken Lay pointed out last week, it's something that we must do when boys and girls are still young. Violence against women is the product of male entitlement and the research supports that. Last month, my mum, who is sitting to the left of the chamber, bravely addressed the Supreme Court in the trial of the man who murdered her only daughter. She said: Your Honour, my husband and I moved to Australia for a better life. We did not have much when we arrived. All we brought with us was a few hundred dollars, some clothes and lots of books. We had our excellent education, our few talents, a fond appreciation of the arts and culture and a resolute will to work as hard as was necessary to prosper. Until January 9 my life and that of my husband's and my two children was cruising along in a picture-perfect manner. But things changed. Family violence changes and permanently impacts on the lives of its victims and survivors; our lives changed, we became family violence victims. We've been straddled with a life sentence of heart wrenching grief and an inconceivable void that cannot be filled. And despite the progress to highlight the prevalence of men's violence, we still live in a culture that continues to mistreat women; lesser pay, sexist jokes, street harassment. As a man, I can pick up and notice these things, but women experience this on a daily basis. We can change this and the way out is clear. It is our collective responsibility to challenge attitudes that condone or perpetuate gender inequality at every level. Systemic gender inequality, narrowly defined views about gender roles, including what it means to be a man or what it means to be a real man and not holding perpetrators to account, these conditions enable violence to continue. I was born in India and moved here with my parents at 18 months of age and things there are often unimaginably woeful for women. But as an Australian, I have a responsibility to point out that we have a lot to change. There are so many factors that influence the formation of gender roles and relationships, but at every level we must take notice of where inequality exists and address it. Whether it's women's seniority and political representation, whether it's remuneration or caring responsibilities, on all of these indicators, our women fair worse than men. People ask me what does this have to do with violence against women? This has everything to do with violence against women. I remind the government that examination of how we view women and men, girls and boys, in both public and private life, shows the severe disparity between genders and highlights how attitudes towards women are the building blocks of men's violence. Standing up and changing attitudes takes both time and perseverance. This is a problem that didn't happen overnight and it won't be fixed overnight, but there's much to gain if we do fix it. I've lost my sister forever, but if we focus on changing attitudes and no longer excuse misogynistic views towards women, there will be a reduction of violence against women. I remind the government that when we fully embrace the true human cost of gendered violence, we will naturally see the fiscal benefits of women's empowerment. We won't need then to even discuss the $21.7 billion loss to the economy because we will be reaping the benefits. Without sustained efforts, our future is the same as our bleak and shameful present and our past. We know the statistics, we know the consequences of complacency and inaction and it's our job to do something about it. When my sister was murdered, I cried, not one more Niki, we've lost enough. We've lost 77 more women since then. Thank you. [Applause] Sara James: Tarang, thank you as well for your bravery and I would like everyone to take just a moment and look around the chamber at the empty chairs and there are more women who have been killed this year than there are empty chairs in this chamber. Each one of these chairs should have a woman in it, including the chair next to Niki's parents which has a photo of Niki. It is now my pleasure to introduce to you Khadija Gbla. Khadija is the CEO of Khadija Gbla Cultural Consultancy, a community leader and an activist. We have just heard from Tarang and his story about the importance of reaching everyone in our community, that domestic violence is not one culture, race or creed, but that it is something that affects everyone in our community. Khadija knows that first hand. Khadija is an award winning leader and an inspirational speaker, in spite of what she had endured. She has 12 years' experience in that and her warm and encouraging message is based on her own story of overcoming small and large obstacles. Because of the adversities Khadija has faced in life and these include war, homelessness, depression, female genital mutilation, abuse and domestic violence, PO Box 745 Indooroopilly QLD 4068 AUSTRALIA Ph 1300 662 173 or +61 7 3378 2668 Email Web The Listening Project Transcript test redaction.doc Page 28 of 65 she has come through this and she is working to help others to take that first step to reclaim their lives and be survivors. If you would join me in welcoming Khadija Gbla. [Applause] Khadija Gbla: Hi, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am honoured to be here today. I stand before you proud African-Australian as evidenced by my frock. I am very proud of my heritage. I was born in Sierra Leone, a place most people don't even know about and due to civil war, my family escaped and Australia took us in and gave us a home. We came to Australia and my mum said to me, this is the place where you can achieve your dreams; this is a place where you'll be safe. Because before coming to Australia, what we experienced I don't think any child should ever experience and that's having people killed in front of you, the reality of knowing that any day you could be a victim of rape or torture or slavery, just because you're born a girl. Australia was heaven compared to where we're coming from. I am a victim of child abuse and I then subsequently became a victim of domestic violence. My earliest memory of domestic violence was a lady escaping to my mum's house with one child on her back, traditional African way, tied up, and another in her hand and she was crying. She explained to my mum that her husband had attacked her and even went as far as to take an iron and tried to hit her. I remember a meeting was held with different community members and the conversation that took place was very shocking to me, even as a child. Because what then happened was the conversation went around how she as a woman needed to cook more and clean more and everything was somehow how she needed to change. In that conversation, at no point was it mentioned that she was abused, that he had no right to treat her like that. I remember later on looking at that man and saying to him - I was probably 15, 16 - I'm going to finish high school and go to university and study law so I can lock up people like you. Yeah, he didn't like me very much after that. But those were strong words and I felt quite strongly about them. It's then unfortunate that I then entered into a relationship that, to me, the abuse felt no different to what I had seen at home. It was so familiar that I didn't even pick up what was happening to me. It started with, you're not good enough, you're worthless and those words became frequent. I thought it must be me somehow, it has to be me. It must be my fault, I need to do better. I didn't see the first slap when it came and it was so shocking, I thought oh my God, I must have really pushed him. Because I was programmed to think somehow it's me. I remember that lady; it was her who had done that. Then when the kicking came and the punch, I thought, no, this can't be happening to me. Something must be so defective in me that I'm being treated this way; I need to work on me. It's all about me somehow. I thought if what had happened in my home is happening, well this is not so strange from that, is it, just a continuation of my home life. So you know what? I'll do what I do best, survive through it, push through it. So I continued. It wasn't until I found myself lying in a hospital bed, after a conversation about a car had escalated and I found myself being chocked, kicked, punched and seem like he was going to dislocate my shoulders as well in the process, I tried to get away from him, ended up getting my phone, called the police and while on the phone, this man decided to take a studded belt and hit me with it over and over while I'm trying to give the police my address on the phone. I thought the gall of this man. The police came; they found him doing the laundry, while I was outside, half-naked, bleeding and hurt. But he was doing the laundry. After he finished his business, he needed to go do his laundry. That's the coldness you live with. I lived for seven years of my young life in Australia wondering that I had escaped war, but found myself in another form of war, one I wasn't prepared for, one I wasn't trained to handle. I woke up every day wishing I hadn't survived the war, that I should have been killed in that war instead of the one I was facing, wondering how I would live to see the next day. When I was at that hospital, lying there, I called my mum. The first thing she said is, what did you do to him, is he okay? I was so shocked; I thought she must not have said that. I said, hello, are you hearing me, I am at the hospital, I am hurt, he assaulted me again and I'm hurt and the police are here and people are asking me a lot of questions. What did you do to him, where is he? I remember the police officer next to me giving me his number and saying, I can see you're not going to get any help; please call me. I spent the whole night at that hospital as somebody who speaks English as their third language, with these police officers going on and on about information that I can't even remember this time, asking me things, I wasn't sure what they wanted out of me. By morning, I was told to go somewhere, not to go home, because I wasn't safe and he has been taken away, to go to a family member's house. I went to my mother's house. She wasn't home. When she finally got home, after not coming to the hospital, any family member coming to the hospital, she said, stand up. So I stood up. She looked me over to see where all the marks and scars were. She then sat down and spent the rest of the day calling everybody and telling them how sad her life was. I felt invincible. I felt ashamed. I felt like I didn't matter at all. I subsequently decided I needed to go back to my house, because I couldn’t stay in that house. He kept on breaking in, called me to get money and then my family started calling me and saying I needed to tell the police I made the whole thing up because I was ruining this man's life. The police came to me and said, do you want to press charges? I thought about it and I thought to myself while lying in that hospital bed, I'm African and my African culture in this instance is what happened to me is actually called discipline because I'm a woman, I need to be disciplined. The Australian culture, as I now know, has legal systems that protect me and rights, I've been told, since I stepped into Australia, I have rights. I was stuck between two cultures and for the first time I needed to reconcile both of them. I thought to myself, this is not just happening to me, this is happening to other people. What I do now will define me for the rest of my life and I thought, if I have a baby girl one day, what do I say to my baby girl about this moment? I decided to press charges. I was told this was un-African of me, to call the police number one and then to press charges or to even know my rights, oh how un-African. They all thought I was a traitor as an African woman; I should have taken it like a strong African woman would have, like my grandmother did and my mum and the ladies that I knew took it. What made me think I was so special I deserved a different sort of treatment? I got disowned by my family for choosing my life, because I knew, lying in that hospital bed, the next time I'll be in a bag and I'll be dead. So I made a choice to want to leave and I was punished for that. So the cost kept on coming about how this was about him and how I was ruining his life; nobody asked me how I was doing or how I felt or the damage that was done to me. I'm now half deaf in one ear. I have permanent back trauma and not to mention the emotional or psychological consequences that I have to live with for the rest of my life. But that didn't matter, because in my culture I was just another woman who didn't know her place and got given what she deserved. I was told it was my fault because I was too educated. I spoke to much, didn't cook enough maybe, didn't clean enough, maybe didn't lay there and take the sex enough. But of course the nicest one was, I had become a white woman. Hello, look at my skin, I don't know what you were thinking. But it seemed like being stuck between two cultures. I had a lot more on my plate. It wasn't just that I was a woman, it was I was a black woman and this became very evident when I went to the legal system. Not only did I feel excluded from the whole process from the moment I gave my report and gave them as much as information, it wasn't about me anymore in fact. I have no voice. Nobody took into account that English wasn't my first language. Nobody took into account that things needed to be explained to me, but especially check that I understood what they were saying to me so that nothing gets lost in translation. In my community, I was the perpetrator and I was treated as such. I was not a victim for them. In the system, I was just a black woman who needed to listen clearly and understand them, not them understand me, I needed to really understand the English they were speaking and really focus because they didn't want to repeat things twice. My ex was now charged with aggravated assault. He got two years' probation. I applied for a restraining order; I got told it was sitting at a police station somewhere and it would get served at some point. Interestingly enough, when I was lying in that hospital, I was later named Young South Australian of the Year. See the irony of the complications of women's lives? There I was, a domestic violence victim, while was honoured for something else. I'm like, oh gee, wow. The shame that brought as well, because this doesn't happen to women who are intelligent and confident and doing it for themselves out there; no. It happens to a brand - a type of woman out there. It's not all of us it happens to. It doesn't happen in the good suburbs, just the poor ones. Not high class, no, low class. I felt like it was written on my forehead, that I had gone through, that everybody could see it. I didn't leave my house for days; I refused to leave the house. My studies stopped. Then I became homeless because I had nowhere else to go. So that restraining order was very important to me. So every time I called and asked if it's been served and I got told it's sitting there waiting, it was a stab in my heart. It only got served after The Advertiser came to me and said they wanted to interview me about my award. I'm an African, a refugee, how can this award - oh wow, damn, a black woman doing something worthwhile, whoa, we better talk about that. They came to me and I said, I don't want to talk about the award. What do you want to talk about then? Domestic violence, things that really matter in life, yeah; so I shared my story and that got printed out. The next day he got served his restraining order. But why did it have to take me using my title and I guess the fact that I was in this situation where people wanted to hear what I thought, to have a restraining order served on somebody who was a danger to me, somebody who's already said, the next time I see you, I'll finish you off? What about all the women who were not in those situations who didn't have that voice, who didn't have somebody who wanted to talk about an award? That pissed the hell out of me. So the next article said, Young South Australian of the Year calls South Australian Police racists. Yes I did; I called them racist. That was it. Somebody had to say it. I called them racist because when my ex decided to break his restraining order by coming to my church, my place of worship and was standing just a couple of steps away from me, smirking at me and I called them, they said, we have been dealing with domestic violence since seven o'clock. How is that my business? Excuse me, isn't that your job? But no, that's what I got told. Then I got told I was being aggressive by being emotional. It's like, oh okay. Then I got asked who got to the church first, me or him. Oh nobody said that when they were writing up that protection order that it will come down to who got somewhere first, apparently. But I have to explain and work out who got there first. Wow, thank you. Then they told me to leave and then they went back to doing their job and just complaining about being up since seven o'clock. It's a tough life, I guess, for police officers. I went to the next station and said, this is just what happened, why did that happen? When I applied for that restraining order, I was told I have protection in that. This police officer said to me, what you have is a piece of shit that's not going to protect you. Wow. Who then do we turn to? So I went home, drank a bottle of Tequila and found myself a golf-thingy, whatever it's called, you know, that swing thingy and decided I'm never going to sleep again and I'm going to be my own protector, since I can't depend on anybody else. So that became my life: hypervigilant, afraid to leave my house, scared of my own shadow, passing out at every turn because I developed chronic anxiety because the system failed me. I thought they were racist because they treated me like I just wasn't worth their time and that the added element of culture which should have been taken into account, which should have been explored, instead of using that against me because I'm African, you know, my hands go like this, I was, to them, like rambling. So in fact I became the one who was interviewed like I was a criminal, when I was just a woman asking to be protected because I was scared for my life. But you know what? After I finished the tequila, it was nice tequila by the way, I decided enough is enough. I'm not waiting for somebody to save me or change my situation. I shaved my hair off, because my hair started falling off due to the stress. I don't know, there' s a name for it, but I shaved it off so I looked like a proper, angry feminist. Then I went and did my first feminist angry speech about domestic violence, I think it was the One Billion Rising event. So there was my nicely shaved head, by the way the lesbians loved me at this time, and I said, yes, I'm pissed. Everybody needs to know I'm angry. I decided to stop being ashamed. I decided he needed to be ashamed, not me. He needed to hide, not me and I refuse to have escaped war, bombs dropping everywhere, people trying to kill me, rape me, to escape all of that only to come to Australia to die at the hand of a man. Hell no, that wasn't happening. That's what I said, it wasn't happening. That's not the future that I had planned for myself. So, I started by sharing my story; stories I find very powerful, I think we need to share more stories. So I started there. Then I ran the first African session for African girls on domestic violence because I thought it was important that young girls knew what they were up against and how they could protect themselves. That was a success. Then I decided advocacy at a political level was necessary. If you don't get a seat at the table, nobody listens to you. If you don't get a seat at the table, your experience or your story won't get heard and you don't matter to people if they don't see you. Certainly a black woman's experience wouldn't matter if I'm not at the table saying, where our experience is different, I have to not only face my gender, I have to face racism, I have to face that English is not my first language, I wasn't born here, that the system's actually quite confusing. That then my community will become actually the problem, but I'm battling my community, going to have to battle the legal system; there's just no escape. For me, speaking out wasn't an option. It had to be done. I'm proud to say that I'm an ambassador for Our Watch and that, to me, is just a continuation of a need to be at the table and say, we need to be inclusive of all women. We can't just have one narrative, it has to be all women and their unique experiences. Without a holistic approach, we're going to lose the battle against domestic violence, because the way it looks and the way it affects women is different. While we are united and it is happening to us, there are differences and we need to acknowledge those differences, like you said. I am proud to say that the community that ostracised me and said DV wasn't happening in the African community, I was making it all up in my head, a couple of years ago held their first session on domestic violence and I didn't push it, I wasn't involved in that in any way. I was home when I received a newsletter saying my community wanted a session on domestic violence. I thought, oh, how the tables have turned. Then the calls started coming in from all the women, knowing I will understand, knowing they have a sister and a friend in me who will be able to say, I have been there, how can I help you? Then it was the men calling me to ask me how I could support their daughters or their sisters. What I'm saying is change doesn't happen in one day and sometimes it's not easy to be the person standing up and speaking and saying, oh, hold on, I don't really want to hear this, but you know, this is happening in our community. But it paid off and every time I get a call from a woman, after I have cried and we have cried and we have, you know how we do when we get together and all of that, I sit back and think this is what made all that experience, all that pain, all that trauma, I took back power and I channelled that anger not into something destructive, but something more, I guess you could say more scary for him. Because I became an ally for other women to be able to then be there for them when nobody was there for me, to say to them, you're not alone and you're not making this up for sure and you don't need to call any police and say you're lying, the evidence is there. That has made my experience worthwhile. If there's anything I could leave you guys with today, for me it's as simple as this. Domestic violence should not be a dirty secret that we leave to those who experience it. For every woman that dies, we should all feel pain that we have lost a human being who has so much potential, something to give to this world. We need to all take ownership of it. I have a nine-month-old now and when he pulls my ears because he's at that stage where he pulls at everything, I say violence against women, Australia says no. [Laughter] When he grabs my boob, I say, did you ask for permission? Hold on, they're still mine, you know, last time I checked, hold on. It's never too early to start having those conversations. The battle against domestic violence and the way to just fight it has to start in our homes. With our daughters, we have to empower daughters, we need to build them up so they know they deserve better so they don’t take shit from anybody. We need to teach our sons how to be good men. We need their fathers to be good role models to them and even at nine months, my son is getting the message, Australia says no. I believe no culture or religion or any other form of excuse should be viable when it comes to domestic violence and people go to their culture. My mother's culture is never a defence or should never be a defence for any form or violence against women and their children, bull stop. Because the moment we start giving people an excuse or we give them a way out, we have already lost the war. I do believe this is war on women, tell me it's not Australia's problem, it's a war against women, that's the problem, it's the women that are dying in Australia, two women a week Natasha Stott Despoja said at the Commonwealth Women's Forum we attended together, two women. When was the last time somebody died of terrorism in Australia? I'm just saying. Or where does the money go? It shows the lack of respect for women, the lack of the value, the lack of value we have for women and their lives in Australia. Please, let's take domestic violence not something that's happening to somebody else, or that people like me need to take on because we are survivors. It doesn't discriminate, so for that reason and the fact that it's happening to our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, it should be everybody's business and everybody should be questioning gender stereotypes that lead to domestic violence, question what masculinity, what that is, what it means to be a man. Certainly it's not to hit a woman, that doesn't make you stronger, that makes you a coward. For the women who are not here today to speak for themselves, I could have easily been one of those women, what I believe my life was worth fighting for and I fought for it and now I'm going to fight for all the women's lives and make sure that not one more woman dies and that not one more woman ends up in hospital because a man thought that she deserved such. We as a society let that happen, because we do let it happen. We have to take ownership of that. So for the women who look like me, who are not here, women who need an interpreter to interpret for them, who may not speak perfect English, who may not understand when white people speak to then, yeah, no, sometimes you do, I can't understand what you're saying, yes, I say to you, we came to Australia for a better life. We came here because our homes were destructive and this is all we have. You can't even send me back to Sierra Leone actually, so sorry if you were thinking about that. This is all we have and I love Australia and that's why I am passionate about being involved in all things Australia and being part of making Australia a better place that we can be proud of. But for all those women, please, let's remember just because a woman doesn't look like you, doesn't mean we don't experience your pain or that you shouldn't fell our pain. At the end of the day, we're united as women and being a woman, that's why we're vulnerable. Thank you. [Applause] Sara James: Thank you so much, Khadija, that was just powerful. All of the speakers today are extraordinary and I know we're thrilled to hear all your voices. A couple of themes are coming through to me and although English is my first language, I also relate as an immigrant. It's interesting, even though English is my first language, I can relate to the fact that all cultures are different; the law is different from place to place and there are many, many reasons why we need to remember that. A couple of themes that are coming through for me is that we are talking about domestic terrorism, aren't we? This is a terrorism that is taking place in homes behind closed doors. Silence is seductive and speaking out is a requirement. When you said that you felt invisible, we must not allow women to feel invisible and I love how you talk about raising your little one. I think that's another theme that is coming through. We're going to go to one more speech just shortly, let me just check my note, because as you can see, we don't want to slow this, but it is taking a little bit more time and that's fine. Here's what we're going to do. We're going to go slight divergent in our program so that we can then come back. We want to make sure and this is incredibly important that we hear from everyone who wants to speak, everyone who has chosen to speak and it's important to hear every word you say. We're going to slightly change the program and we're going to go now to someone who I know is familiar to all of you. Our next speaker is Rosie Batty. Rosie's name has become synonymous with the words courage and resilience. She has become a tireless campaigner. I heard Rosie just a few months ago in Macedon when she was speaking there to a football club. Many of you have heard her in other venues and that's because Rosie just won't stop and she won't stop because the problem has not stopped; we haven't ended it. She established the Luke Batty foundation and has this year launched the Never Alone campaign, asking all Australians to stand with her and beside all victims of family violence by signing up and you might want to write it down if you don't have it already, at Rosie is also a founding members of the Council of Australian Government's Advisory Panel for preventing violence against women, is of course the recipient of the Pride of Australia national courage medal and this year was inducted to Victorian Honour Roll of Women. Rosie is here with us this morning to share her remarkable story of resilience, courage, inspiration. Rosie Batty. [Applause] Rosie Batty: It's so moving. I'm normally the victim's voice that gets trotted out and speak and speak, but hearing these powerful voices from different perspectives, from very different experiences, but with their voices and I think, where is Mark Latham? Where is Miranda Devine? What's the other one? Bettina what's-her-face? Yeah. Where are they? Because they need to hear this; how on Earth could you not think this is a gendered issue? What planet are they still on? What do they read? What do they know? But yet they're so entrenched in their opinions and they're so ill-informed. The reason I was able to speak was because Greg murdered Luke and then he killed himself. I was able to speak because there wasn't going to be a criminal trial. I was able to speak not with gender or a script and not knowing what I was doing or what I was saying, but I said what I said. But make no mistake, I was a victim that was hurt because of Luke's death. I was a victim that was hurt because I was white, middle class, I can speak well, I'm professional; I'm all those things. Otherwise I'd have had no bloody voice. I would have been like everybody else. You're absolutely right. It's powerful and those people and those bureaucrats in their ivory towers who make policy decisions, who make decisions and cut backs and funding cuts, they're not here listening to these stories. They don't have to face the decisions that they make by telling and turning people away. Where are those judges and magistrates that we need to hear these stories? Because yes, in court, you are a number, an inconvenience to an overburdened system, you don't understand what's going on. The prosecutors' files are like this, you're a Post-it note and they haven't got time to read your files. Valuable information is not heard and you are sent out there at huge risk to your safety. Luke died. He died and the person to blame is squarely Greg. But we exist in silos and we do not work collaborative and as a victim, your risk to your safety is minimised, overlooked and you're not believed. When I consider my journey, I knew that I wasn't the only victim of violence, but I had no idea that everyone who went through the system had the same experience as myself and that indeed an intervention order for me took great strength. Yet it was the only bloody thing people kept telling me to do, throughout the whole of Luke's life. Take out an intervention order, get more counselling. I didn't need more counselling; I needed the violence to stop. I didn't want to take out an intervention order because it's a piece of paper, it doesn't guarantee your safety and in fact, as it has proven, if they are going to decide to kill you, they will and can because no-one's actually intervening into an escalating set of circumstances. You're a sitting duck. There isn't the long term mental health intervention and we know, I know, that Greg was mentally ill. He also had a marijuana addiction, he was also homeless and living in poverty. But he was also a very violent man. His attitude towards me and that of women was that of disrespect, disregard and I remember one argument, him saying to me, man follows God and woman follows man. I said, really? He said, yes. I said, so I'm not good enough to speak directly to God? He said, no, you have to come through man. I said, just leave, just go. So what it is it about people thinking that going and finally pressing the charges because you absolutely have to because the violence has escalated to a point where you have no choice, or you're finally taken out that intervention order, that finally you've got courage, finally you're empowered, finally you're something we can respect and admire because you're doing something about it, what about enduring the violence? What about having no choice and nowhere to go and no support? Indeed, I didn't have to leave because it was my home and I never lived with him and the very fact the violence doesn't stop because no-one's intervening to make it stop. Our courts and the attitudes within our court systems have so much to answer for, so much. While I can keep talking, I will because I'm able to be openly critical, because no-one can tell me not to speak. No-one can tell me what I didn't experience and no-one can tell me what ended up happening. Why people don't think they need to know more about family violence, in their training, in their professional development, what is it about this issue that has always been there and no-one has actually addressed? It is, it's violence against women. People don’t like the language, they don't know what to call it, they debate what we should say, how we should say it. You're right, as soon as you call it what it is, family terrorism, we all get a bit quivery, particularly governments. Because, oh you can't call it like that; but why can't we call it like that? Because that's exactly what it is. So we need to just get smart and be honest and up front and direct and call it for what it is and start getting off, putting more stuff into more and more revision, lack of action, it's like let's just get on and do what needs to be done to make change. We recognise it is so entrenched in our attitudes. I'm appalled and so saddened all of the time about this victim blaming society that we exist in. People don’t even know they're doing it. You know, that's very clear in your culture, but you know what? It's everywhere and they don't even - it's my fault that Greg killed Luke because I shouldn't have taken him to cricket on that day, that somehow I should have foreseen what was likely to happen and I should have done more to protect him. I shouldn't have let Greg have access to Luke; whatever, whatever, whatever. But one of the things that I will say and what I'm supposed to be talking about is transcending from victim survivor into creating change. On that evening, at the worst of that time, I had a compassionate policeman with me. He just was there, he touched my arm, he was a compassionate policeman. Alan from Homicide said to me, Rosie, this was a premeditated act, you are not to blame, you could not have known this was going to happen. Throughout my journey, I've come back to that and said, I was not to blame. Can you imagine Lindy Chamberlain and the journey she went through, where you experience a trauma so significant, no-one believes you because you don't respond the way a victim should, you're punished, disbelieved and persecuted. Lindy can never get her baby back, she can't get back the three years in prison that she experienced and to live with the stigma of, I think she really did do it, I don't really quite believe that, you know? So look at those people. I had the privilege of meeting someone last week in Manly, it was a woman who was here as an English backpacker with her partner. He was murdered, she escaped. The media and police treated her abominably. She has not even begun, 15 years later, to unpack that trauma because she hasn't been able to. We talked about the difference in my journey, that I had a voice and you know, when I spoke to the media, I could have been crucified because that's what we all expected to happen when you speak to the media. In fact I didn't know what I'd said and was a bit scared in case I'd said something that was going to crucify me. But the way that I've been supported, the respect that I've been shown, the compassion and empathy has helped support me to gain confidence to continue to speak out. But that is not the experience of so many other victims. It is not safe to speak out. What is going to happen if we do? Who are we going to upset because we're making them look bad and it becomes about them. It is not an easy journey. The other thing we really need to define is, yes it's easy, you are clearly a victim when you are in the experience of the violence. You survive it when you're just surviving it, but what do we call people like us who are beyond surviving, but what we are is doing something, using our past, using our experience to create change? It doesn't mean that I'm any better than the other victims who don't speak or can't speak, it just means I've been given an opportunity. When I have, every day, wherever I go, people coming to me and saying, please keep doing what you're doing and I hear the stories and I meet the women who are coming from different states who say, I'm a nobody. This is what a particular lady said to me in Blacktown: I come from Brisbane, I've had to leave. I can't contact my family, I can't contact my friends, I can't use my name and I can't use my profession; I'm a nobody and I don't know how to reach out for help because I can't trust the police, I can't trust anybody because he can find me, he's that smart and good at what he does in technology hacking. So he's that smart, she cannot ever afford to have her identity known by anybody; she has no-one. She lifted her wig and showed me that she wears glasses and a wig so she could come out and speak to me, to let me know how important it is for what I'm doing. Those are the women I'm meeting, the ones that have had to move to Perth, professional woman, new starts, new identities. But what cost, but at least they're alive. At least they're alive. He'll never change his behaviour and he'll never give up the vendetta that he's specified that he will kill her. That's how people live and I speak about those things because they never will ever be able to be photographed or accidentally caught on camera or able to be out in public without a fear, without a fear. Christie knows that I speak a lot about what her bravery because she has an alarm on her, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for her safety. That's how she has to stay safe, never knowing whether she has to look around the corner or down the street. She lives with that and she's very incredibly brave. She made a decision, as we have, not to stay being victims, but it's a confronting journey and the opportunity to speak from a victim's voice is really hard because it's only a recent phenomenon that people have actually wanted to listen, not just, but really listen, really listen and take on board. Really listen and take on board that. People who make decisions about people like us cannot know what it's like unless you've experienced it, but you can experience it deeply if you listen to our voices. Then decisions are made, I think, that are imperative, as parts of the puzzle they put together. The overarching theme here absolutely is no-one makes the perpetrator accountable and that's the next step forward. So the victim blaming, the responsibility for safety, the child protection coming in and punishing you because you can't keep your child safe, without recognising that the problem all the way along is the perpetrator of violence which is predominantly man. That doesn't mean all men are bad, we shouldn't even have to say that, but the backlash and the ugliness that starts to come to you as an outspoken victim, naming it as a gendered issue, as we know, you go on Facebook pages, it's ugly, but it's there. I'm okay, I'm acceptable as a victim until I start talking about gender, then I'm open for huge backlash and I've changed, I've been hoodwinked by that feminist mob; the feminist conspiracy. But what on Earth are they watching when they watch the news every night, because they can't be watching the same news as myself. So thank you for this opportunity. I think it's really powerful. I've been incredibly moved, and I know Phil. I've heard him speak many times, and he's as passionate as they come. It will be another great conversation. I haven't heard - is it - speak yet, but I know that what we're going to hear next is going to be equally as powerful. I just really feel very humbled about being part of this great opportunity to share voices. Thank you. Sara James: Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year, and I think we all know why. When we talk about raising our voices, it is individual and it is collective. It is people who have an alarm. It's people who fight multiculturalism. It's people who are men and speak out on behalf of their little sisters and their families. It's every single person who is speaking and who has taken the opportunity to attend today. Every voice matters. So we're going to take a little bit of a break and give people an opportunity to have morning tea, and you're going to be going to the Members' Dining Room. If you haven't been there before - I only went for the first time - you're going to be going back through these doors, and you go through the LA Chamber, then you're going to go to the Members' Dining Room. People will be there to show you. There is going to be a board that is going to let you know what the seminars are, the half-hour workshops that you will be participating in, so I'm going to allow everyone to go and enjoy that. I'll be back there too. We'll come back shortly. Thank you everyone. Sara James: Hello everyone. I'm going to take a moment and ask everyone to resume - return to your seats, and we are going to continue. As you're taking your seats I'll just let you know that I for one have been humbled, awed, and deeply saddened by many of the stories that I've heard today. It is traumatic. It is difficult. It is utterly necessary. We admire the bravery, the resilience, all of the courage that it takes to come and speak, and most importantly to try to change things. That is why we are here today. It is, however, a new event. This is the first. You are attending the inaugural event of this kind here at Parliament, and that's quite extraordinary. I'm delighted to be part of that, and I'm sure all of you are. As with anything that is new, there are always things that you do - next time we'll do this a little bit differently. I think we have been spellbound by each one of the speakers, and have wanted to and needed to allow people the time that they needed to speak. That's important. So we're going to - as is true with these things, we're going to make a few little changes and some of them we already have. We have about another 25 minutes and then we really need to go and break if we're going to have an opportunity to workshop this. I know that's important to everybody. So what we'll do is we'll have a couple of more speakers, then we'll take a break. We'll go back to the room and have the workshops. As we go forward next year, we'll take every bit of this that we have learned and make it slightly different next year to allow for this. So we appreciate your understanding of the changes as we go forward with our event today. It's now my pleasure to introduce is a [f, She knows this firsthand. It was unfortunately a feature of her own marriage that lasted for over years. made the decision to break her silence and let the broader community know that domestic and family violence can happen to anyone. There are many themes that have emerged today; that is certainly one of them. So if you join me in welcoming [Female] Okay, thank you very much for having me here today. I'd like to start also by acknowledging the original owners of the land on which we stand, and the elders past and present, and the Honourable Fiona Richardson, and also the advocates and survivors and their families that are here today. It really is amazing to be sitting here with you all. Thank you. Mine was a sad story, but it's now a brilliant story. If I get sad and teary while I'm telling it, please don't feel sorry or don't get upset for me, because my life is absolutely amazing now. I'm also going to start this in the third person because I actually find it easier to start like I'm talking about somebody else, because it's hard to reconcile it as my life now. I want to tell you a story about a woman. This woman was from a family of few means, as many of us were 50-odd years ago. She married very young, in the late at the age of , which many of us did back then as well. , however, she had children and her then husband decided it was time to go because he wasn't too rapt in having a young family with a heap of small children as well. But she knew that for herself and her children to have any sort of chance in life, she had to go to university, had to get an education. So she did. For the chances for her and her children, she went to uni and became very well educated, and still is becoming educated, still working at that. She trained to be a social worker, then did post-grad qualifications. She met her next husband at , so he was amongst men who were different to the men from her background. He was intelligent. He was articulate. He was very politically correct. He came from a very good family, one of Melbourne's best. She came from a stable family, but they all lived interstate, so they weren't really there around her for support. They were never in a financial position to offer support. She never really talked to them about what was going on, because it would have put them in a very difficult situation, especially her mother. He'd been to the best schools. His parents belonged to the most . Through their university studies, he and she learnt what domestic violence and the myths, the stories. He knew what it was, and he knew what it meant. Over the years he worked his way up in the field, and he's still working as a for a very large organisation. His organisation has domestic violence programs that he has responsibility for. This is a man who stood and still stands up publicly against domestic violence, yet every single day he put this woman and her children through a hellish existence. He only hit her every couple of months, but over years that adds up. When I say hit, we're talking crazy, crazy behaviour; not a slap or a punch. He went crazy. There was no real pattern or warning that it was about to happen. Of course it made everyone in the household understand it could happen at any time. Extreme control, and what a shock. I think she went into shock for months when it starts to happen, because it wasn't supposed to happen with men like him. Of course this was extreme control. When he wasn't physically violent, he emotionally abused them all. He made specific and relentless demands on everyone, from how loud the dog could bark to how thick the homemade bread was allowed to be sliced - and it had to be homemade - how the butter had to come out of the container, and how it had to be spread. He was never allowed to be criticised, and if he felt this ever looked like happening in public, look out. He smashed things to make his point - not his things of course, only hers and the children's. He hurt the animals. He killed a few animals to make his point. He would not let her sleep sometimes all night if he wanted her to agree to something she didn't want to do. He spent his money on his fun; nothing wrong with strip clubs, table-top dancing, prostitutes, hours and hours of masturbating to porn on the internet. If she couldn't pay the bills, keep the house and the kids going, there was something wrong with her, and the children were too demanding. She had to take a weekend job on top of her full-time job in order to make ends meet. Early on she fell pregnant to him, and he told her he'd kill her if she ever left or ever took this baby. She believed him absolutely because of the things he'd already done to her, and also because he would occasionally threaten her with a knife and again make this point. He punched her, kicked her, threatened to stab her, tried to run her over in the car, tried to kill her in the car. He often went for the kids or the pets, and she'd put herself in the way, which meant she ended up sore, injured, bruised and very shaken. He was very clever; still is very clever. Their friends and work colleagues thought it was fantastic: a great partner, a great dad, because of the show he put up in public. The few times the children called the police out of fear for what he was doing to their mother, he had the police eating out of the palm of his hand within 20 minutes of them getting to the house, which took a good hour. Even though the children called 000, it wouldn't come from the next neighbouring town. They had to come from their rural district, which was an hour and a half away because they lived in the country. He told the police she was a , that she lectured on domestic violence and abuse, and that she was manipulating them as well as him, and couldn't they see what she was doing? It didn't matter that everyone in the house was shaking and afraid, and that things were smashed around them, that the kids were upset. Every single time it worked to his advantage. The police wouldn't do anything. They lectured her on how stressful it was for him in such a noisy and messy house, because it was often pretty messy by the time he'd gone crazy. They always colluded with him. Three times they were time; three times they colluded with him. They would ask her if she would like to lay charges, and they asked her in front of him and the children. The look on his face told her what would happen if she did. She never considered taking out an intervention order. He had no respect for that, and he told her so, and told her it would not protect her. After a while there was no point in calling the police. I'm not really sure if the police ever really know what a woman has to do to calm a man down when they leave a house in a situation like that, but I will leave that to your imagination on what those nights were like. He chose to be like this with her and her children. He wasn't like this at work. Everyone loves him; still loves him. His female colleagues would often tell her how lucky she was to have a husband like him. Of course it was me. The silence around what he was doing in our home and to our family gave him the power to keep doing it, , even though I do have all the police reports from the times they did come. Even though I do have the diary that went forever, I still don't have any faith in the legal system that that would help. There was no one to talk about what was happening because I was working in the field as well as coming home to him at night. So I worked all day getting women out of these situations, helping them stay safe while they were in those situations, and doing what I had to do to keep them safe. He took great delight in relating over and over how the police wouldn't be able to save me or the children, and showing me stories from the papers around the men that got away with killing their wives and partners, and the pathetic sentences of those that were found guilty. He wasn't scared of any of it. Eventually I had to change my job because I couldn't keep doing that work by day and coming home to that at night. I knew all the theories. I knew it was domestic violence. I knew all the help that was out there, but I also knew that he was going to kill me if he didn't like how this ended. I wanted to stay alive to be able to be around my children as they grew up. I knew no one would get to me in time to make sure this happened. Like every woman that lives in that situation, you're weighing up every decision, every day, every action that you take. I used all my energy protecting my children, ensuring they had everything they needed, and that they knew that none of this was their fault. I knew for me the safest I could do was to stay, to watch, to protect, and to know where he was. It all ended quite suddenly when I ended up in hospital after he and a nurse routinely asked me about my domestic violence at home. I just told her everything. I was on some pretty heavy drugs at that stage, I have to say. Morphine is a great opener of conversation. It was a small rural hospital, and everyone knew me, and our general practitioner was also a doctor at that hospital. He believed me too, which was a shock, because whenever we'd gone as a family to the doctor or for anything, it seemed like he and my husband were pretty close friends. That was pretty much it. As soon as he realised that people knew, and his family thought that it might get out, he was off. They gave him heaps of money to start again, after of course they all took me to court to take everything they possibly could from me and the children, and given they had access to some very fancy lawyers, and I couldn't get Legal Aid because I was working, that financial abuse was a great way to wrap it all up. That nightmare lasted for years, and that was years ago. But where to start? Where to start with the systems? For me the legal system really let me down, all right? I just think police need to be able to understand who the primary aggressor is when they turn up at a house. There should be no questions asked when they know what's going on. I mean a family is a privilege, and a man who abuses that privilege should be removed from his family and not be allowed to go back until he knows what it is to have a family. He should be taken away. He should be excluded. Intervention orders need to matter. I was facilitating a domestic violence support group only yesterday in the northern suburbs, and three of the women in that group had had breaches for their intervention orders in the last few weeks. The police didn't act on one of those reported breaches; not one of those three. The women were made to feel - they were dismissed when they rang up. They were made to feel hysterical. They were made to feel they were making a mountain out of a molehill. They were made to feel that perhaps they were revengeful. That's this month. I really don't think things have changed all that much. That's not in the country; that's just in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. One of the women, when she went into her house, he'd broken in and he'd laid the knives out on her bench. The police said do you have any proof it was him? Did any of the neighbours see anything? Sorry, we can't act on it. I also think we need to work with all health professionals so that they have enough training to pick up on the red flags that indicate when a woman's in trouble. I think never is it written in that file, in that woman's file, that it was domestic violence. It's not written by the police. It's not written by the ambos. It's not written by the emergency triage. It’s not written by half the people in the ICU. Those words are never written in this case files. I have to tell you vets need some bloody good training to in domestic violence. So many times I took animals to our vet, and to have a vet threaten you with a report to the RSPCA when they know the story doesn’t fit the injury for the vet is not at all helpful. What on earth did they think I had done to these animals? What was going through their mind that they didn’t understand that it was domestic violence and there was nothing that could be done? I feel that I am truly lucky. I am one of the lucky ones because I've escaped. My children have been allowed to grow up, and I've seen my grandchildren born. Thank you. Sara James: Thank you It's another harrowing story, a harrowing account, and I'm glad to know that you are safe and well and moving forward. You have a lot of really I think important ideas about the fact that we're missing cases, screening through health, and again we come back to the law, the law, the law and the law. It's got to work. Our next speaker is a former independent member of Federal Parliament, author and Victorian football legend. He's a long-term campaigner with a national profile as a speaker on issues of social justice and domestic violence. Phil has recently raised issues in the press about the importance of listening to and responding to victim/ survivor voices, and considering improvements in the family violence system. I want to mention that Phil is here today with his two sisters, Elizabeth and Donna. Thank you for joining us Phli. Phil Cleary: Thank you Sara. I'd like to thank Minister Fiona Richardson and Chief of Staff Tanja Kovac for asking me to speak, and to say to you, Minister, that your chief of staff is an inspiring woman. We had a long conversation the other day, and I thought it was so uplifting to have someone who conceptualises the problem the way you do. Together as a pair I think you're going to make a serious difference. Lorna Cleary was 54 years of age when I cuddled her in a grim little room in the Melbourne General Hospital on Wednesday 26 August 1987, 28 years ago. Lorna was my mother, and was reeling at the shattering news that her 25-year-old daughter, her firstborn girl after four boys, was dead, the victim of a revenge attack, knife attack in fact, by her ex-boyfriend outside the kindergarten where she worked. Sorry Mrs Cleary, we couldn't stop the bleeding, said the doctor. I've never forgotten those words, nor Mum crying, Philip, what am I going to do? She always called me Philip. Two years later we were together at the Melbourne Town Hall, at the first ever commemorative service for the women and children taken by vengeful, misogynist, possessive men. It was a seminal moment in the campaign that has brought us here today. This campaign did not start yesterday. Go back to Vida Goldstein in 1900 and you'll find her talking about this very problem. Although our family was still in a state of shock, little did we really know the depth of our mother's pain. In her 1994 diary, on 26 August, she would write: Vicky's seven-year anniversary. Went to the cemetery. On 9 October she would say, Vicky's 33rd birthday. Wish she was here with me. Miss her so much. In an undated letter she wrote: My darling Vicky. I think of you often, always with tears in my eyes, and I wonder why it had to be. Life has been very hard for me to carry on and be normal, and the strain of it all gets to me. I need you, my Vicky, to be with us all, but I know that is impossible. My mum was my inspiration. Mum wasn't one to waste words or engage in hyperbole. Of the court case and the manslaughter verdict under the patriarchal provocation law, she said it was like having Vicky murdered twice. Mum spoke little about the sentence of three years and 11 months given to the perennially violent man who took her daughter's life. In the ground-breaking book from 1994, Blood on Whose Hands?, which everyone should read, she said, it was as if my daughter had done something wrong. This man who cried when giving unsworn evidence had harassed Vicky before and after she left him. She just wanted to get on with her life. He refused to let her do that. It's a shame Mum wasn't alive - she died in 2011 - to hear Prime Minister Turnbull pay tribute to the victims he said, quote unquote, had borne the burden of our failure to act for too long. To every child who has lost a mother, every mother who has lost a child, for the lost daughters, sisters, aunts and friends, and for those who are suffering right now, this is your day too. It's the day we talk about your courage, your pain, your sacrifice. So I talk about my mother's along with the others. The provocation law that obliterated the human rights of women in Victoria, and continues to do so in South Australia and New South Wales - so Mr Turnbull, here's my call: make sure that provocation is abolished in New South Wales, your home state. At least talk about it. Same in South Australia. That law is emblematic of what the Prime Minister calls our failure to act. So Minister, if we don’t apologise for the law's complicity in the violence, how can we ever truly honour mothers like Lorna and daughters like Vicky? How can we move on if this dark, misogynist history is buried away? We can tell our stories, but we must acknowledge the wrongs of the past. When Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generation in 2007, my mother, a working class woman from Brunswick, born in the Depression to a 16-year-old mother, wrote: Not before time. In fact, she said: Wednesday is Sorry Day, not before time. When Jill Meagher was murdered by a stranger, 30,000 people honoured her in Sydney Road. Yet most people would struggle to name a handful of the more than 60 or 70 women murdered by a partner, current or estranged, in Australia this year. If we can document the road toll, why hasn't the Office of Public Prosecutions documented the death toll of women over the past 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years? Is it really 2500 women murdered by these blokes since Germaine Greer wrote The Female Eunuch in 1970? Would we have enough primary and secondary victims to fill the MCG? It's a harrowing thought. How sad that the names of the murdered women lie buried in transcripts, ones I struggle to get out of the Office of Public Prosecutions, having written to them on numerous occasions and still can't get the transcripts of those trials. How sad that those names are buried away rather than emblazoned like VC winners or sporting heroes in the collective memory and on the public role call. When Luke Batty was taken from his mother, Rosie, the nation cried as one in disbelief and sorrow, as it should have. The compassion was the same when we heard about the Farquharson children in the dam in 2005, and Darcy Freeman on the Westgate Bridge in 2009. But it's time the innocence afforded to children was shared by every woman murdered by the man in her life, for those women are heroines at the front line of the feminist struggle, whether or not they've read or heard of Germaine Greer. So let me name just a few of them. Patricia Longley. Her bullying husband, Billy Longley, charged with murder in 1961. The verdict? Not guilty on all counts. June Flanagan, strangled in 1970. Provocation, manslaughter. Joy Tonetti, Bev Quincy, Leonie Jones, Marion Hall, all shot dead in 1972 by their man. All cases not guilty of murder due to provocation. 1975, Joan Stuart, killed with a meat cleaver by her husband. Not guilty to murder, three years in gaol due to provocation. 1978 Margaret Duncombe and her 18-month-old son, shot dead. Manslaughter for the killing of the mother. Murder for the killing of the child. Ten years in gaol. 1979 Marlene Byrne nee Halfpenny – shot dead – manslaughter. 1981 Zerrin Dincer, stabbed by her stepfather in a so-called honour killing – manslaughter. 1987, Christine Boyce shot dead in front of her two daughters. Manslaughter, three years in gaol. 2003, Julie Ramage, strangled. Provocation, manslaughter. 2008, Susie Wild, strangled by her husband. Described as the mouse that roared. Jade Bownds, stabbed by her ex a kilometre from where Jill Meagher was murdered. Manslaughter. The man doesn't ring like a clarion call though, does it? 2010, Janine Kelly strangled by a man she'd met in a pub. Manslaughter. 2014, Rekiah O'Donnell shot dead. Manslaughter. Jessie's in the room today. We remember Tracey McNamara, Sarah Cafferkey, Adriana Donato, Masa Vukotic, and Nikita Chawla, whose family is here today. We remember Kate Malonyay, whose killer was given a Navy funeral with full military honours. Obscene. Outrageous. Disgraceful. Deserves a proper apology, and a comment from our Prime Minister. You wouldn't get it from Tony Abbott. We've come a long way since institutionalised complicity of this kind passed without comment. We've come a long way since the late Joan Kirner created an anti-violence steering committee, Minister, in 1991, and I was on that committee. So take our hats off to you, Joan. We've come a long way since wife murder produced sentencing remarks over in five minutes, and newspapers ran headlines such as Love Pulls the Trigger, Kevin Crow, 1989, the case that followed ours. Today the Australian of the Year is a mother forged in the grief of mothers like mine. Today, cultural and institutional change is on everyone's lips, and no one dares say publicly that women are to blame, except in the last vestiges of that vanishing world, patriarchal courtrooms, where the provocation myth still stalks murdered women, and women like you, Kirsty. From the local sporting club to the august courtrooms, we must pursue change. But while we're doing it, we must stop the killing of our sisters, mothers and daughters. We must surely fund and resource community health and legal centres, and enable them to take their place as the front line organisations, on equal terms with the police, liberating women from these men. If we can mobilise dedicated police teams to thwart ISIS terrorists, why can't we do the same with these domestic terrorists? Are we seriously going to believe that the 60 women or 70 women who died at the hands of the man in their life could not have been saved? That is simply not true. It's time our tears of sorrow were replaced with tears of joy as one after another of those murdered women, the women whose stories my mother, our mother, Lorna Cleary, documented in her scrapbook, were saved from the terrorists. My mother cried for every mother. Our mother cried for every child. Our mother documented the struggles of families like the Chawla family. Our mother was part of the campaign. We've come a long way, and I thank you, Minister, for offering me the chance to speak for my mother and my sisters, in solidarity with the campaigners who filled the Melbourne Town Hall 28 years ago in defence of their sisters. In this public place, I again offer you, Rosie, my commiserations and my family's compassion. Good on you. Good on everyone in the room as we conquer the wild beast of misogyny and ownership by bad men. They are not afflicted by mental health. They are not afflicted by alcohol. They are not afflicted by drugs. They are afflicted by a disease called ownership of women, and reducing women to commodities. My last point: on the steps of the Supreme Court in February 1989, I said: This verdict reduces my sister and all women to chattels. We have a crisis of modernity. Post the rise of feminism there is an underbelly of men who are resistant to the progress of women, andwe have to marginalise them and save our feminist heroines. Thank you. Sara James: Thank you Phil, and thank you not only for sharing the suffering of your own family and what you've done on behalf of your mother and your sisters, in particular Vicky, but also for that roll call of the dead. Too many women have died. We're going to take a little bit of a turn now, and the next speaker that we have is Kevin Hazell. Let me tell you a little bit about him. The Victorian Government is very committed to ensuring that people affected by family violence shape the way the new system works. So to talk about how the community can help co-design the family service system, we have here today Kevin Hazell. Kevin is the Manager of Integrated Transport Planning at the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. Interestingly he's currently leading consultation with Victorians who have disabilities - that's something near and dear to my heart - on improvements to the way they access transport services. But he has a broad policy background, and so we're going to listen to him today not only about what he's done in that area, but also in terms of how we help victim/survivors and redesigning the system's services. Kevin Hazell. Kevin Hazell: Okay. I've been instructed to curtail this to about three minutes, and I'll certainly do that. It's a little bit of an abridged version. My name's Kevin Hazell, and I'm a public servant. My background is in local government, state government, and I've worked for about seven years in London government. If someone said to me what do you do, my parents can't tell you what I do. That's the first thing I'd say. What I do is that I sit at the end of processes about implementing change to real systems. That’s what I do. A lot of the change that we talk about eventually lands on someone like my desk, and I have to do something to make change happen. Someone like me writes new legislation. Someone like me changes the procedures manual. Someone like me delivers training to other public servants. Someone like me is a really important part of changing the way we deal with things. In the consultation I'm doing at the moment, I introduced myself - we're running a workshop with about 30 Victorians, and I introduced myself, and a citizen said rather loudly, we thought we were coming in to speak to someone important. I take that, and I said to that citizen that's a fair thing to say. But by the end of the two hours he realised that delivering real change in systems is important, and I'm the sort of person that does that. I'm the sort of person who goes out and speaks to communities about what does supported change look like, what's its deliverability, and going back to ministers and government to make that difference. That’s what I do as part of this system. It's not to say that others aren't important, but that detail, deliverability and implementation is really important. One of those things to do is to engage with stakeholders, and that's something that I do a lot of. It's something that on behalf of my minister and my department we go out and speak to communities. In terms of the program we're currently consulting on, which is about the program that supports disabled taxi travel, I always start the workshop by saying two things. One is how often the program's reviewed, and the second thing is how little anything ever changes. Thirty years is that program, reviewed every four or five years, nothing much ever changes. I say that to really focus the room on today we're talking about deliverable change. There's got to be a reason why this hasn't changed in the past. It's not through lack of good intention, and it's not through - it's actually not through incompetence. But there's something unique about why change hasn't happened, and there's something unique about why this might be a moment for change to happen. I would have spoken about the five lessons I've learnt about public policy that I think correlate with success, and we don’t have time for that, but it might be something we talk about in the workshop. But in order to keep on time I will just finish with an example that Phil actually touched on, and that is where have we made sustained change, because there's lessons to be learnt from that. I'll give you an example: our road toll. In the 80s, we set out as a state to make a difference. We decided that the deaths on our roads wasn't acceptable, and over 30 years we have made that difference. There are unique things about that example that we may well want to reflect on in terms of making a difference now. It's a little bit about policy. It's a little bit about strategy. It's a little bit about revenue. It's a little bit about funding. It's a little bit about - it's a lot about culture change. It's a lot about delivery. It's a lot about 30 years of hard work by a whole lot of people in our state. But the reason it matters is that I couldn't do my job if I wasn't optimistic about our ability to make change. The minute I'm not optimistic, I'm no longer a public servant. So I won't take you through those five lessons, but it really is about what's unique now, and what's the difference we can make. I'm really proud to be a public servant, and I appreciate you taking the time to listen. Thank you. Sara James: Kevin, you are not only the guy who gives bureaucrats a great name, but you are also somebody who's taken one for the team, because the fact of the matter is you've given us some time to go to our facilitated workshops, and we appreciate it, because we would have loved to have heard those five lessons. Hopefully we will in the workshops. I just want to mention one thing, because Phil brought this up and I think this is important. You talked about this provocation law. That sounds like a starting point right there. Get that sucker off the books. I've just - and I'm sure there's a lot - yes, in two states, New South Wales and South Australia. But that's just one example, and I think that the - to go to Kevin for just a moment, the road toll was coming up to me again and again. I do a lot of driving on the Calder, and every time I do, I see that big sign that says Towards Zero. So is that not the clarion call for us today? Towards, indeed let us have, zero. So with that, let me let you go back to the Members' Dining Room where you will have an opportunity meet in your facilitated discussions. Male: Hello. It's good to see everybody. How are you? [Robert] good to see you, so good to see you. How are you? Just quietly just come to [unclear]. Very good. Sara James: Thank you everyone for coming back and - as we come back in for our final couple of moments here. Many things are clear to me and many things remain unclear. There is lots that needs to be changed and the specifics of what that looks like and how that happens are yet to be determined. But one thing I wanted to mention. I know some of you would really like, and indeed I would as well, the opportunity to share the kinds of things that you've heard in your breakout sessions and have that opportunity to get together with other people and learn more and reflect more. I've just spoken to the Minister and she'll talk more about it. But that opportunity will happen. The exact day and time will be announced in the New Year in 2016. But I think you can rest assured that the conversations that we've begun today are just the start of something that will continue into the New Year and beyond. I also think that what we did do today, although with every new development and new opportunity like this, are always things that you would do ever so slightly differently. One thing I would not have changed is the opportunity to hear each of you who spoke, speak at length with detail and to be able to understand and have the chance to simply listen to those stories. There is nothing more powerful. There is nothing more important. That's what a body like this is here for. Now I would like to say how much I appreciated being here as your facilitator and moderator and turn it over to the Minister. Thank you very much Fiona Richardson, Minister, for doing this and for bringing us here today. Female: Thank you. I do want to acknowledge Sara too, for her facilitative role today. It's not an easy thing to do, to keep a parliament under control. But you've managed to do that. Perhaps [Telmo] needs to be concerned. No, but obviously we're much better behaved today than our usual behaviour. So - but thank you nonetheless. Can I say to each of our speakers today, it was very moving to hear from each and every one of you and it - there is not a day that goes by when I'm Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence that I don't learn something about what we need to do. But today, to see the courage that you have shown in sharing your stories, it is somewhat grounding and it is also inspiring for me and I know for other members of our Government. So I want to thank you for that. There is a reason that we chose Parliament House to have today's conference and today, to hear from each and every one of you. Because we want to take your voices and your concerns and everything that you've said today, right into the heart of Government and the Parliament of Victoria. So what we've heard today, we will actually be pulling together and collating into information sheets and documents and the like. It is our plan to take that to every magistrate, to every head of every department, to every police officer that we possibly can, so that your views are reflected in their thinking processes. Because what is clear to us is that our decision making processes have to fundamentally change. We have to reflect upon some of the assumptions that we've made along the way, those assumptions that clearly lead to bad and poor decision making. I'm not a very popular person around our court system, because I am very happy to call out the fact that our courts are consistently failing victims of family violence. I'm very happy to say to, to any police officer that I meet you have to lift your game. I think the different though that is there from our police here in Victoria, as opposed to our courts, is that our police are actually prepared to say that they are failing victims of family violence. But I'm not convinced that our courts are there yet. I'm not convinced that our magistrates actually understand the views that you have put today. Some of them have the very best of intentions. I know that. Some of them want to see a change in outcomes. But you don't know what you don't know. So having these opportunities to listen to those stories, to actually listen very carefully to what is being said, your lived experience is something that I wish for every single decision maker, every single judge, every single politician in this nation. Because if we do truly listen to what you have said today, we will truly make the change that we have to make to our family violence system. But as [Phil] spoke today. There is so very much more in each of the speakers, there is so very much more we need to do, because in fact, every part of our society, every single, every single part, from sporting clubs to business, to courts, of course to police. Every single facet of our society must change. But the reason we decided to have this conference and to hear directly from you is that we understand just how incredibly powerful your voices are. We also understand that they have been ignored, consistently, ignored, decade in decade out. Well, we're not prepared to let that happen anymore. In our office quite literally, we have whiteboards and we talk about what is going to be the governance structures that are actually going to make sure that victims' voices are heard beyond Fiona Richardson being the minister, beyond Daniel Andrews being the Premier. Because what I know about politics is that the bandwagon moves on very quickly. Even though we have so many passionate people concerned about this issue, I know that the bandwagon sadly will move on very quickly. But when it does, the Premier and I want to make sure that we have in place structures and processes and the like, that actually give voice to your concerns. We are the biggest business in town, the State Government of Victoria, by a significant margin. Kevin would know that it's actually a very difficult beast to steer away from the iceberg. But we do have leaders within our public service. We do have leaders, obviously, within our parliament. We do have leaders within our courts, within our police, who do want to embrace change. To each of those leaders, much as I'm saying to you today, I want to thank them and acknowledge them for the work that they do. To the service sector, to all of you who are here today, who are helping victims day in, day out, I want to also acknowledge the work that you do. You do save lives and you do make a difference and I want to thank you for that. So we will be back. We will be back. Hopefully, perhaps in this place, perhaps somewhere else. We will be back and we will be giving you a report on today's outcomes. We will, as I say, be promoting those ideas and the like right across the system. As I say to my team and I do want to thank [Tanya, Nicola, Ash and Cat] - I wondered where you were Cat - and also the parliament for putting this together for us. But as I say to my team, you know what I think they picked a fight with the wrong bunch of women. We will be taking this further. You can be guaranteed of that. We will be holding another forum much like this, to continue the work that we're doing, continue the momentum that we've made across the last year and beyond. So, thank you for coming today. I look forward to seeing you again and thank you again for the courage that you have shown in sharing your stories with us. All the best. Sara James: That, I believe, wraps it up.


Labor Member for Northcote, Fiona Richardson MP, today announced the dates for next month’s community engagement sessions and the opening of the online community information hub for the $110 million Chandler Highway Bridge duplication. Community sessions will be held in October where local residents can see the latest plans and options for the Chandler Highway, as well as provide input about key features and the future design of the new bridge over the Yarra River. Plans to upgrade bike paths along the Yarra River will also be on display. The Chandler Highway is an important road which connects the inner northern suburbs to Melbourne’s east and south, and forms part of Melbourne’s Principal Bicycle Network. The Andrews Labor Government’s upgrade will remove the bottleneck where four lanes reduce to two, which will reduce the length of traffic queues and allow traffic to move more freely. The community engagement sessions will be held at the Northcote High School Hall, 19-25 St Georges Road, Northcote, on: Tuesday 13 October, 6:30pm – 8:30pm Saturday 17 October, 10:00am – 12:30pm The community will have an opportunity to view plans and to speak directly with VicRoads representatives. If you are unable to attend the community engagement sessions, an online community information hub will be available at from Saturday 17 October, 2015 Quotes attributable to Member for Northcote, Fiona Richardson “We want to hear from local residents, motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists about their views on the design options and what the best outcome is for our local community.” “The Chandler Highway is an important transport connection within our growing community, and the Andrews Labor Government is making sure we get this upgrade right.” “We will consider all feedback when finalising the design and continue to work closely with the community throughout the project.”


Family Violence Community Forum

Member for Northcote and Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Fiona Richardson, will host a family violence forum in Northcote next month. The forum will be held at the Northcote High School on September 9 and Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty and Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner and Family Violence Command chief, Dean McWhirter will join Ms Richardson in addressing community members. Chief executive officer of No to Violence, Rodney Vlais, will also speak at the event. Violence, in all forms, is unacceptable and has long lasting and terrible consequences. Tragically, two women a week have lost their lives to family violence so far this year, an unacceptable increase on last year’s average of one woman a week. Family violence has devastating consequences for victims, their families and the whole community. It also costs the Australian economy an estimated $13.6 billion dollars a year due to a broad range of factors including the stress it places on the community and social services. It is time to shine a light on this national emergency. Part of this process involves engaging communities on this issue. It is important that existing negative perceptions around relationships are challenged and that our approach to tackling family violence is recast. Community forums such as the one to be held in Northcote are an important part of this engagement. The Northcote family violence forum will  commence at 6.30 pm sharp on September 9. All members of the community are invited to attend. Quotes attributable to State Member for Northcote, Fiona Richardson MP “Family violence is a harm that affects all Victorians and we need to come together as a community to combat this.” “Two woman a week lose their lives to family violence, this is unacceptable, and the focus must turn to prevention. “Rosie Batty has shown enormous courage in speaking out against family violence since the death of her son Luke and I look forward to speaking alongside her and our other esteemed panelists at this forum.”

Speech marking Thornbury Primary School centenary

Thank you to all involved in today for inviting me to be part of it. It’s a very important celebration and I’m honoured to be part of it. Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal People and the oldest continuous culture on our planet- The Aboriginal culture. I pay my respects to the elders past and present who have cared for their land for thousands and thousands of years. Today we celebrate 100 years of Thornbury Primary School. Just a blink of an eye compared with the time the original custodians of this land have walked over this special place. We’re so fortunate here at Thornbury Primary School to have so many Aboriginal students and families connected to our school. It enriches our school and it creates a very special learning environment. But, the Aboriginal culture provides so much more than that and as such, it is a culture we non-Aboriginal people need to take the time to learn from. Unlike our traditional Anglo-Saxon culture, it intuitively prepares not just for the next 100 years, but the next 1000 years. It thinks of the countless generations to come. It holds in its hands the gifts of our land and cares for them with a keen eye to the future. I like to think that the founding principal of our school- Mr James Owen Hughes also embodies this understanding. He recognised that he was a mere custodian at the school and built strong foundations for us to build on. He understood he had to care not just for his generation of students but the many generations to come. Important anniversaries like this one remind us to think in generations, like Aboriginal people do. Our kids, our teachers, our school leaders and our politicians are just passing through. And the challenge for each of us is to ensure we fix a keen eye on the future. I’m a parent of two primary school aged kids and in wanting the very best for them, I understand there is a danger in becoming short sighted. I’ve grown up in a non-Aboriginal culture but, like Thornbury Primary School, I’ve been lucky enough to work and appreciate the lessons of the Aboriginal people. In short, Aboriginal culture is by its very nature, a big picture culture. And as we prepare for the next 100 years, or dare I say the next 1000 years, we need to continue to put our individual needs, our own self-interest into that big picture context. We’ve seen a great many changes at our school in the past 100 years. We’ve seen over 1200 students here after the First World War. We’ve seen 80 per cent of students come from migrant families after the Second World War. We’ve seen teacher facilities stretched. But Thornbury Primary School is a great school. And importantly too, it has the potential to be a role model for other primary schools in our state. And our goal, as we celebrate today, is to renew our commitment to the future and to the big picture. To those who will inevitably follow us, we need to be able to say we were a safe pairs of hands and that we always had you in mind. We have in short, been very good custodians of Thornbury Primary School. Congratulations Thornbury Primary School and thanks again for having me.

STATEMENT - On the passing of Frank Wilkes AM

Today the Labor Party lost one of its great champions with the passing of Frank Wilkes. Frank had an illustrious career in the Victorian Labor Party and he made a significant contribution to the party, as well as the seat of Northcote, which he held for more than 30 years. Frank was elected to the seat of Northcote after John Cain Snr’s death in 1957. In a demonstration of his commitment to the Northcote electorate, Frank also served as a Northcote City Councillor from 1954-1978. Frank became Labor Whip in 1959 and deputy leader of the party in 1967. In 1977, Frank took over as Opposition Leader- a position he held until 1981. When the Labor Party won government in 1982, Frank was made Minister for Local Government and later Minister for Housing. He was the Minister for Tourism and Minister for Water Resources when he retired from politics in 1988. His commitment to the Labor movement was evident right to the end with his sound counsel and friendship to me, and to other Labor Party members in Northcote. On behalf of the Victorian Labor Party, and as the current Member for Northcote, I thank Frank for his contribution to the electorate, to the Parliament and to Victorian politics. To Frank’s family: thank you for sharing Frank with us. He will be missed.