I have thought a lot about this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered Violence. About how I want to engage with it and promote it and reflect upon it here, and elsewhere in my life. I haven’t been able to make use of this space as I would have liked to lately due to a legal matter, related to the assault upon me, which has effectively silenced me in many ways. So, while there is much I could say right now, that I would like to be saying about my own experience and how it ties in with the need for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered Violence, I can’t in the way I would like to, in the way I would chose to, if it were up to me.
However, I still want to engage. Violence against women is such a pressing issue that I cannot sit this one out, even if I cannot participate as I would usually. The universal pandemic that is gendered violence requires all of us to speak up, speak out, act out and agitate. We cannot sit by and simply expect the problem to go away, expect it to leave us untouched. We cannot just wait for it to be dealt with by someone else. We cannot allow ourselves to inadvertently support the continuation of this violence by unthinkingly accepting the way things are. For the way things are means 1 in 3 Australian women becoming victims of violence; means 1 in 5 Australian women becoming victims of sexual violence; means 76 Australian women killed by their partners each year. To say these are unacceptable statistics doesn’t even come close to doing justice to the gravity and magnitude of this issue (for more on what gendered violence in Australia looks like currently see here and here).
So, this year, I have chosen to participate in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered Violence by highlighting 16 different ways that people around the world are working to end gendered violence. Sixteen different faces to this pandemic, sixteen different ways people are seeking to change the status quo.
For Day 1, I couldn’t go past the Safe at Home, Safe at Work: Domestic Violence Workplace Rights & Entitlements Project. A project of the Australian Domestic & Family Violence Clearinghouse (ADFVC), Safe at Home, Safe at Work has now ensured that 750,000 Australians are covered by domestic violence clauses in the workplace. The OH&S clauses entitle workers affected by family or domestic violence to paid leave, plus a range of other supportive measures, and is a world-first initiative that has seen Australia recognised internationally for its progressive action on raising awareness of the connection between domestic violence and the workplace. As Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, highlighted on International Women’s Day 2011, domestic violence is a workplace issue, and not just for the primary victims. Domestic violence, combined with sexual assault perpetrated against women, costs the nation $13.6 billion per annum. With more than 1.2 million Australian women experiencing domestic violence, and most of them in paid work, the costs for Australian workplaces are substantial.
The achievements of Safe at Home, Safe at Work are testament to the huge gains that have been made in recognising the prevalence and impact of violence against women in Australia and to the tireless work of activists and campaigners to achieve this recognition. The introduction of domestic violence entitlements in industrial awards and agreements in Australia is a vital and necessary step towards not only providing better support to those experiencing violence in the home but to demonstrating what is involved in us becoming a community that no longer tolerates, or enables, violence against women.
- Safe at Home, Safe at Work website
- ‘When Domestic Violence Comes to Work‘, Elizabeth Broderick, March 8 2011
- ‘Domestic Violence Leave Surges‘, Ben Schneiders, The Age, October 27 2012