11 November 2020
Ms TRISH DOYLE (Blue Mountains) (00:23:18): Before reflecting on what it means to have somewhere safe to walk and a place where women and children can live free from violence, I pay my respect to the traditional custodians of the land and the Elders past, present and emerging. During NAIDOC Week I acknowledge the intergenerational trauma that impacts Aboriginal communities as a result of colonisation and dispossession. For more than 40 years, communities across the globe have been marching in the spirit of Reclaim the Night—a cause that was initiated in the English city of Leeds following the Yorkshire Ripper murders in the mid‑1970s. In response to the investigating police telling women to "stay out of public spaces after dark", women took to the streets carrying signs such as "No Curfew on Women—Curfew on Men." This march went on to inspire women across the globe, including women in Australia, to protest and demand safety for women on the streets at any time of the day.
Whilst the scale of the marches may have reduced somewhat since the heyday of the 1970s and 1980s, Reclaim the Night continues to galvanise communities in their efforts to address violence against women and women's safety. We know that most acts of violence against women and children are committed by men they know, often men they are intimately involved with. Like many of you, I am outraged by the weekly death toll of women at the hands of their intimate partners. This is an outrage and completely unacceptable. We must do all we can to bring this violence to an end. As the shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the shadow Minister for Women, I demand safety for women and their children. I demand safe places for women and children so they can escape domestic and family violence. I demand resources in the community so that police can respond, health services are accessible and specialist domestic violence services can provide support at the very time this is needed.
Today as we reflect on the terror that affects women of all ages and all cultural backgrounds, from all walks of life and in all our towns and cities, I acknowledge the role of victims and survivors, the advocates and the supporters in calling for an end to violence. It is not good enough to hold women responsible for men's violence. We have put up with that for far too long. I demand that men be held to account for their violence. I call on other men to join in and call out the violence and the threats of violence when they see it. The only way we can reduce the statistics of violence against women is to work together—men and women, community, non‑government organisations, police and healthcare workers, researchers and academics and all levels of government. We must work together, learn what works and makes a difference and focus our efforts there.
I acknowledge the work of the domestic violence, women's health and community legal sectors across this State who have advocated for women's right to safety for many decades. In a myriad of practical ways they have helped women to have their day in court and ensured that women and children have a safe place to sleep and that they are able to get the support they need. I sing the praises of the frontline emergency workers who deal with domestic and family violence and sexual assaults on a daily basis. I thank the NSW Police, the NSW Ambulance Service and the doctors, nurses and counsellors who staff the hospital emergency departments in communities across this State. I thank and acknowledge the efforts of the organisers of Reclaim the Night in the Blue Mountains and in Sydney. They did an amazing job at bringing together a groundswell of women and men who are seeking a safer and respectful future for women and children in our cities and regions.
I acknowledge Cherie Brandon and Clare Darling from the Blue Mountains Women's Health and Resource Centre, and author and illustrator Ailie Banks, who hosted a conversation with me in Katoomba which was streamed through Facebook live on Reclaim the Night. I thank Chloe and Lucy, the organisers and the convenors of Sydney's Reclaim the Night. It was a rowdy yet respectful crowd. They can be proud of their event and the attendance. I ask everyone in this place to acknowledge the importance of Reclaim the Night. As many of us over the last months have spoken of family and domestic violence, I ask that you walk the talk as well as talk the talk.