We acknowledge that both women and men can experience violence, but the nature of this violence differs in terms of its severity and impacts. Data comes from sources such as the Crime Statistics Agency, the Prevention of Family Violence Data Platform, and the Personal Safety Survey undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. As uncomfortable as it may be, the data consistently shows that women disproportionately experience intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual assault, and are more likely to be hospitalised, injured, express fear or be killed by a current or former partner. To address the violence experienced by women, we must recognise its gendered nature. We look forward to a future with very different data that shows all forms and rates of violence being eliminated!
Speaking disrespectfully does not necessarily mean someone is abusive, but people who are abusive often speak disrespectfully. The evidence tells us that the most consistent predictor for support of violence against women by men is their agreement with sexist and disrespectful attitudes towards women. Sexist jokes reflect and reinforce sexist attitudes. There are many jokes we can make that aren’t sexist and disrespectful – why not challenge ourselves to be creative with our humour and not fall back on old stereotypes!
Poverty, unemployment, or stress alone do not drive violence against women. Women experience poverty, stress, and unemployment at equal or often higher rates than men. However, 95% of violence is committed by men, not women. Violence against women happens regardless of income, class, or unemployment status. While we recognise those factors may increase the likelihood or severity of violence against women, they only play a role when people hold beliefs and attitudes that are sexist and disrespectful.
Family violence occurs among all types of families, regardless of income, profession, religion, ethnicity, or educational level.
We agree – everyone should be respected regardless of their gender. Unfortunately, though, women experience casual and structural sexism daily and are not respected in the same way as many men are. To create a society where there is no disrespect and no violence, we need to look honestly at what the evidence is telling us.
Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on sex or gender. Although sexism can be directed at men, women have been and remain the predominant targets of sexism. Sexism toward women must be viewed differently to sexism toward men because it is based on systematic inequalities and historic oppression. Sexism and similarly inflexible beliefs and attitudes toward sex and gender roles (sexism) are the most consistent predictor of attitudes and behaviours that lead to violence against women.
Family violence and violence against women is a serious and prevalent issue affecting the health and wellbeing of many people living within our municipality. The role of council is to address issues that are relevant to our community, and we are legislatively required to work to prevent family violence (Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008). The reach of local government across the community is unrivalled and we are in a unique position where we can embed gender equality across multiple community settings and services. We believe that we can lead the societal change needed to achieve gender equality and subsequently prevent violence against women through the services we deliver, our organisational structure and operations, and most importantly through leadership in the community.
Family violence is no longer considered a private matter and is being addressed as a serious public health and criminal justice issue. If you know of someone who is being abused, express your concern, and encourage them to seek help.