Joint statement: Safety Advocates Respond to Women’s Safety Summit

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MWA joins organisations and survivors from across the country to issue a joint response to the Women’s Safety Summit that concluded on Tuesday 7 September 2021.

“The needs of women from migrant and refugee backgrounds should have been amplified much more significantly in the National Women’s Safety Summit. Investment in specialist models of healing and prevention via culture, language and faith have a proven track record and save lives. This is an investment in justice and well-being adding value to social economic recovery within a respectful, dignified, healing and community assets-based framework. With 49% of Australians being born or having a parent born overseas, the issues of concern for women from migrant and refugee backgrounds are significant to the safety of all Australian women.
Unfortunately, coercive control is present in 76 out of 77 Domestic and Family Violence homicides in NSW and it is essential for it to be recognised in a nuanced and measured way in the next National Plan.”

– Maha Krayem Abdo OAM, Muslim Women Australia

Joint statement: Safety Advocates Respond to Women’s Safety Summit

We are in a moment of national reckoning, in which survivors have spoken out and shone a spotlight on gender-based violence. This moment demands national leadership. 

The Government’s Women’s Safety Summit did not meet this moment. 

Whilst many experts shared powerful advice, wisdom and recommendations; the opportunity for contribution by the hundreds invited as delegates was limited. The agenda was narrow, the process was exclusionary, lacked transparency, and the space was tightly controlled. The Summit failed to meaningfully include many marginalised groups; and a number of key advocates, including survivors, were not invited to contribute.

The next National Plan can only succeed if it works for everyone affected by gender-based violence. It needs to be relevant to all of our community; expert-led; to draw from the expertise that flows from lived experience, and to be focused on systemic, transformative change. These co-design principles were not adequately reflected at the Summit. They must be central to the National Plan if it is to enable a safer future. 

First and foremost, governments must address the ongoing impacts of colonisation and invest in the leadership and expertise of First Nations people. Governments must value and embed the expertise of lived experience. Experts and advocates have already laid out a full spectrum of solutions; from addressing fundamental inequalities, barriers and biases to specific services, support systems and policies. Many panellists spoke powerfully to some of these issues throughout the Summit. We echo their voices here, including the call for action.   

Hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals also brought a call for 12 transformative actions to form the foundation of the next National Plan. Experts have laid out a blueprint. Now we need action from all governments to realise it. 

Governments hold the power to shape systems, policies and structures that contribute to gender inequality and other structural inequalities that are drivers of violence. They control policies that directly impact our safety on a daily basis. The Federal Government needs to play a leadership role. We urge the Federal Government to commit to systemic change, including setting concrete targets. Achieving transformative change goes beyond funding, but will not be possible without a long-term and substantial increase in Commonwealth funding across the full spectrum, from primary prevention to response and recovery. This must include funding services that directly impact our safety on a daily basis, including for initiatives informed by evidence; specialist practice expertise; and lived experience. 

We demand governments act now to implement and resource systemic and structural change.

Endorsed by:

  • Fair Agenda
  • Australian Women Against Violence Alliance
  • Lula Dembele, survivor-advocate
  • Domestic Violence Victoria/Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria
  • Domestic Violence NSW
  • Women’s Legal Service Queensland
  • Women’s Legal Service NSW
  • Gender Equity Victoria
  • Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association Inc
  • Mishka, survivor advocate
  • Nicole Lee, survivor-activist
  • Ending Violence Against Women Queensland
  • Talie Star, survivor advocate with lived expertise
  • Northern Territory Council of Social Service
  • Older Women’s Network NSW
  • Women’s Legal Tasmania
  • YWCA Australia
  • Women’s March Sydney
  • Women’s Health Centre
  • Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre
  • Australian Women’s Health Network
  • Australian Council of Social Services
  • Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • Rachael Natoli, Lokahi Foundation
  • Muslim Women Australia
  • Women’s information Referral Exchange
  • Equality Australia
  • End Rape on Campus Australia
  • Cina Loren, disability advocate

You can read more about the joint statement, advocate responses, and add your name in support at:

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