18 March, 2021
What an important and historic week we have seen here in Canberra and around Australia. Monday's March 4 Justice was a defining point for me and I hope for our nation. It has led to a national conversation that many have tried to avoid or, worse still, repress for too long. It's a difficult and painful conversation but a necessary one. I want to share the words of one brave survivor from Warringah who has written to me as she processes the emotions and events of the last few weeks. She wrote, 'This is a conversation that we, as human beings, as a nation, need to have. We don't want to have it, but we need to. It's long overdue and it isn't going to be easy. There will be no winners in this. No-one will come out of this feeling good. But, hopefully, after this we can all move forward and create a safer world for our children to live in than we have had.' We owe it to this survivor and to the hundreds of thousands like her to ensure this painful conversation leads to real and long-lasting change.
Over the last month or so, across our nation, there's been a build-up of frustration, anger and hurt but also a build-up of energy, of a desire to take action, of a demand for justice, respect and change. It was a truly humbling experience to step outside this place on Monday and join the thousands of women and men who had marched to our workplace, demanding that we, as their representatives, listen to them and take action. As I walked through the crowd, I was struck by the diversity of faces and experiences around me. There isn't a single sector of our society that isn't affected by gender based violence and that isn't demanding change. As we listened to the powerful words of those speaking, I could hear stifled crying amongst those gathered. For some they were tears of pain, as their own experiences and trauma were relived, for others they were tears and memory for loved ones who could no longer live with the burden of their abuse, and for others, they were tears of exhaustion, after decades of fighting for basic human rights and respect.
I'm conscious that the national conversation at the moment is causing trauma and distress to many people. It's literally a triggering event. To them, please reach out and get support. To the government, I plead with you: now is the time for action. Listen to the frontline services, who are telling you what is needed to better support our victims and survivors and what is needed to prevent the violence from taking place in the first place. Enough is enough. For those who need assistance, please reach out to 1800RESPECT—that is, 1800737732.