While we welcome the release of the draft National Plan to End Violence Against Women 2022-2032, we need to express how disappointed we are that this document contains no clear strategy for how to achieve this necessary outcome. In fact, because it contains no clear steps for how to end violence against women alongside specific targets and accountability, it is difficult to call it a ‘Plan’.
More than a decade after the historic launch of the first National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children 2010-2022, rates of violence, especially domestic and family violence, remain far too high. In fact, they have barely changed since the launch of the first plan– and in some cases they have actually increased.
The need for change, and the sense of urgency, is clear -- all the more so after a year that saw women’s rage at the lack of progress spill over onto the streets in the form of historic Marches 4 Justice across the country. In keeping with this sense of urgency, we, the undersigned, ask that the draft Plan be withdrawn and amended to include an overall strategy that lays out specific steps and targets for how the government plans to end violence against women by 2032.
While the current draft National Plan does, indeed, set a bold vision for a future free of violence against women and their children, it does not set out how this will be achieved.
The draft Plan claims to serve as a “blueprint for change” that sets out “our collective ambitions, priorities and targets for how we will work to end violence against women and children over the next ten years”. It does not.
The draft Plan also claims that it “integrates all we have achieved and learnt since 2010.” It does not.
Disturbingly, the draft Plan does not directly acknowledge the fact that the first National Plan failed according to the single measure for success it set for itself (on the very first page of the plan) back in 2010: to see “a significant and sustained reduction in violence against women and their children during the next 12 years, from 2010 to 2022”.
The draft Plan acknowledges only indirectly that this aspiration was not achieved, acknowledging that rates of domestic violence have remained stable and rates of sexual violence have increased. In response, the draft Plan laments that “more needs to be done”.
We believe that a more robust analysis of how and why the first National Plan failed to meet this aspiration must be undertaken. Without this, the current draft Plan cannot claim to have “learned” the lessons of the last decade, and so cannot hope to be any more effective.
The draft Plan is largely a collection of statistics describing the issues, with noble sentiments and platitudes promising a future free from violence against women and children. How will this be achieved? The draft Plan does not tell us.
It is, frankly, hard to see this Plan achieving anything at all unless it adopts clear targets and steps for achieving them.
Instead, those targets have been kicked into the long grass with the promise of an “outcomes framework” that will include targets that will (eventually) be set after further consultation and monitored by a new Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission.
This is absurd. We note that a 2019 Auditor General Report into the Department of Social Services’ implementation of the first National Plan was scathing in regard to targets and evaluations, stating, among other things that, “The Department of Social Services’ effectiveness in implementing the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022 is reduced by a lack of attention to implementation, planning and performance measurement.”
The Morrison government has already conducted 18 months of extensive consultation which were supposed to result in the new National Plan and, presumably, address these shortcomings. It has failed to settle on a strategy and targets and, therefore, its draft Plan is already a failure.
We, the undersigned, demand specific targets and a clear path to achieving them, together with a credible accountability mechanism. In the absence of targets, we do not believe the draft is credible and believe it should be withdrawn and rewritten to reflect these concerns.
We also acknowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have consistently advocated for a dedicated National Plan to eliminate family violence in their communities, most notably via a Change the Record open letter in October of last year . This draft does not meet that request.
The suggested dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women “action plan” is a subset of the mainstream national plan. It falls short and we reject it entirely.
Finally, regarding the related issues of transparency and accountability, we note that the Morrison government has still not released the consultation reports completed by Monash University that underpin the draft Plan, denying experts, victims and the public the opportunity to gauge the extent to which the Morrison government undertook meaningful consultation -- and whether the draft Plan matches the expert advice of the more than 500 individuals who contributed over those 18 months. This is deeply worrying, lacking in transparency and disrespectful to those who contributed their time and expertise.
This “Plan” is not a plan at all. We demand it be withdrawn and replaced by a clear set of objectives with a credible path towards achieving an end to violence against women and children over the next ten years.
|1. Dr. Anne Summers, AO, Author, Journalist, Activist|
|2. Wendy McCarthy, AO, Mentor, Speaker, Writer, Activist|
|3. Jess Hill, Journalist, Author, Speaker|
|4. Kristine Ziwica, Journalist, Commentator and Activist|
|5. Dr. Tess Ryan, Writer, Academic and Consultant|
6. Brittany Higgins, Former Political Staffer, Visiting Fellow at the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership
|7. Grace Tame, Former Australian of the Year|
|8. Marie Coleman, AOPSM|
9. Antoinette Braybrook, Co-Chair Change the Record and Co-Chair National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum
|10. Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair Change the Record|
|11. Tasneem Chopra, OAM, Cross Cultural Consultant|
|12. Bri Lee, Author|
|13. Larissa Behrendt AO, Academic, Lawyer, Writer, Filmmaker|
|14. Nina Funnell, Journalist, #LetHerSpeak Founder|
|15. Lucy Turnbull, AO, Urbanist, Businesswoman, Philanthropist|
|16. Daisy Turnbull, Teacher|
17. Joumanah El Matrah, Former CEO of the Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights, Writer, Activist
|18. Yasmin Poole, Youth Advocate and Public Speaker|
|19. Sharna Bremner, Founder and Director End Rape on Campus|
|20. Colleen MacKinnon, Principal, Inclusivity Quotient|
|21. Jane Caro AM, Novelist, Author, Activist|
|22. Professor Clare Wright, La Trobe|
23. Khadija Gbla, Award Winning Facilitator, Keynote Speaker, Anti FGM Campaigner & Human Rights Activist
|24. Kara Keys, Chair Women in Super|
|25. Nicole Lee, Family Violence and Disability Activist|
26. Georgie Dent, Executive Director The Parenthood, Author, Journalist, Advocate
|27. Kim Rubenstein, Independent Senate Candidate|
|28. Astrid Edwards, Writer, Teacher, Podcaster and Director|
|29. Professor Nareen Young, Professor UTS Jumbunna Research|
30. Dr. Blair Williams, Political Scientist, Research Fellow and Lecturer at the GIWLANU
|31. Emma Dawson, Executive Director Per Capita|
|32. Jo Dyer, Independent Candidate for Boothby|
|33. Linda Seymour, Independent Candidate for Hughes|
|34. Dr. Monique Ryan, Independent Candidate for Kooyong|
|35. Trish Bergin, Co-Director 50/50 Foundation|
|36. Sarah Moran, CEO and Co-founder, Girl Geek Academy|
|37. Lisy Kane, Co-founder, Girl Geek Academy|
|38. April Staines, Co-founder, Girl Geek Academy|
|39. Amanda Watts, Co-founder, Girl Geek Academy|
|40. Dayle Stevens, Ambassador, Girl Geek Academy and Robogals|
|41. Rubii Red, Girl Geek Academy|
|42. Hannah Diviney, Co-founder, Missing Perspectives|
|43. Phoebe Saintilan, Co-founder, Missing Perspectives|
|44. Dr Neela Janakiramanan, surgeon|
|45. Angela Pippos, Journalist and Author|