All Australians are responsible for ending violence against women

Today, on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, it’s a good time to reflect on what we know about the experiences of women, take stock of the work we are doing, and get on with the work that still needs to be done to ensure women can live in safety and fulfil their potential.

Metro Assist CEO, Michael Szafraniec, said understanding the scale of violence against women in Australia is a first step.

“We know that, in Australia, one in three women has experienced violence inflicted by a male partner,” he said.

“We know that family violence is the leading cause of serious injury, disability and death for women. We know that on average, one woman is killed every week by her intimate male partner. Addressing family violence is essential to ending violence against women and making the home a safe place in which women and children can live and thrive.”

Metro Assist specialises in providing essential support to migrant and refugee families, including those experiencing domestic violence.

“Gender-based violence can happen to anyone, but women from migrant and refugee communities can be particularly vulnerable because of language barriers, reduced social support networks and uncertain citizenship status,” Mr Szafraniec said.

“Our work includes providing resources and support to women and children experiencing domestic and family violence so they can escape physical, sexual, social, emotional or financial abuse.”

“However, it is our work with men that catalyses real ongoing systemic change to families and communities. Our case workers, counsellors and psychologists work with men to address a broad spectrum of issues, from attitudes to consent and patriarchal constructs to emotional regulation and parenting skills. They provide diagnoses and ongoing support for mental illness, which involves breaking down significant stigma. We also provide practical support with other issues, such as unemployment and financial distress, which are often present in households where domestic violence is occurring.”

Mr Szafraniec said shifting public attitudes and behaviours can impact the lives of women at home.

“All men must walk the talk – at home, in the workplace, in public spaces. There is much work to be done: normalising men accessing support for their mental health, identifying and shifting patriarchal norms, encouraging all men to speak out when they witness sexist, violent or disrespectful behaviour,” he said.

“I hope International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women not only draws attention to the dangers that women face daily as they move through the world but also encourages all Australians to examine how they can contribute to effecting real cultural change.”