Ending gender-based violence in a generation is going to take leadership and action. The last year has shown how urgent this issue is in Australia. This federal election, political candidates need to step up and show their commitment to prioritising this issue.
That's why Fair Agenda has worked with experts to identify six critical areas of action needed to end gender-based violence - and asked candidates to commit to action, by taking the Pledge for a Safer Future. The pledge reads:
As a candidate for federal parliament, I pledge to:
Do what it takes to end all forms of gender-based violence within a generation
To end all forms of gender-based violence in the next 30 years the federal government will need: to commit to proper resourcing; use effective and appropriate frameworks developed by the communities they are supposed to benefit; and mechanisms to ensure accountability.
- Support a minimum of $1 billion per year in federal investment to implement the National Plan To End Violence against Women and Children 2022-32.
- Support doing what it takes to meet the Closing the Gap target of reducing all forms of family violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children by at least 50% by 2031, as progress towards zero.
- Support the establishment of a Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission as an independent statutory body with a mandate that includes publicly reporting on the government’s performance and progress towards ending all forms of gender-based violence within a generation.
Champion strong action to prevent all forms of gender-based violence by addressing its drivers and enablers, including gender inequality.
Evidence shows that violence against women is much more likely to occur when power, opportunities and resources are not shared equally between men and women in society, and when women are not valued and respected as much as men. To prevent gender-based violence, we must work at individual, institutional and systemic levels - reaching people where they live, learn, work and socialise - to target gender inequality, attitudes, social norms and practices that provide an enabling environment for gender-based violence.
- Push for a National Gender Equity Strategy to ensure government policies, plans, programs and budgets promote equitable rights, power, resources and opportunities.
- Support full implementation of the recommendations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner’s Wiyi Yani U Thangani Report; and the recommendations that come from the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People With Disability.
- Back the expansion of evidence-based primary prevention initiatives in all contexts - including increased investment to implement expert-led consent and respectful relationships education in schools nation-wide.
Push for proper funding of specialist sexual, domestic and family violence services - to ensure everyone affected can access the support they need, and that perpetrators’ abusive behaviours are reduced.
To improve safety outcomes, we must ensure there are no gaps in the service safety net adult and child victim-survivors rely on for their safety and recovery. That means sustainably resourcing services that are easily accessible no matter what one’s status nor where they enter the service system, culturally appropriate, accessible to people with disability, and run by those with specialist expertise in responding to gendered-violence; and holding perpetrators accountable and supporting them to change their behaviour. It also means prioritising investment in Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations - including Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, their peak, and other First Nations led services - and programs by and for the communities they are serving.
- Champion proper investment in accessible, culturally appropriate and trauma-informed specialist sexual, domestic and family violence services - so that no victim-survivors who need support to recover are turned away, when reporting, seeking safety, navigating the legal system or seeking support for trauma recovery. That includes supporting investment in initiatives led by the communities they are for.
- Champion increased investment in accredited perpetrator interventions, to ensure that men who use violence can access the services they need to change their attitudes and behaviours and, ultimately, keep victim-survivors safe.
- Support the creation of a new temporary visa to allow women on temporary visas experiencing domestic and family violence to access the government services and support they need to be safe whilst making alternate visa arrangements.
Vote for better legal and institutional responses for victim-survivors to ensure people seeking support are helped, not hurt, by systems that should support them.
Too often, women and victim-survivors are failed by laws and institutions that should be supporting their wellbeing. Current laws enable women with disabilities to be denied agency and subjected to sexual and reproductive violence, including forced sterilisation; they can also create barriers to prevent women and children escaping abuse, and be used to force survivors of family violence to maintain contact with a perpetrator who is harming them. Aged and disability care homes remain sites of sexual abuse and violence; and too many universities fail to adequately prevent or respond to gender-based violence with little consequence.
- Act to strengthen standards and accountability mechanisms to ensure federally governed and/or funded institutions ensure safe environments, including: universities, disability group homes and aged care facilities.
- Support the reform of laws, practices and policies that undermine the safety and wellbeing of women and victim-survivors - particularly relating to Family Law; and the experience of women with disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.
- Support 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave for all workers.
Vote for safer workplaces by supporting full implementation of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Respect@Work recommendations to address workplace sexual harassment.
- Support an enforceable positive duty on all employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation; and support a new inquiry power for the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to investigate systemic sexual harassment.
- Support changes to allow representative groups to bring actions in court on behalf of people who have been sexually harassed.
- Support reviewing the Fair Work system to ensure and clarify that sexual harassment is expressly prohibited.
Champion reforms for a safer parliament - including full implementation of the recommendations in the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s ‘Set the Standard’ report.
- Vote for the adoption of a strong Parliamentarian Code of Conduct,
- Support the Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission having scope to cover historical complaints of workplace bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault
- Vote for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission to have power to make recommendations about sanctions, and to enable the full range of sanctions outlined in the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s report - including suspension, withholding of salary, withholding of budget and dismissal from a select Committee.
- Support actions to advance gender equality, diversity and inclusion across parliamentary workplaces - including measuring and publicly reporting on the diversity characteristics of parliamentarians and staff hired under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act.
Fair Agenda provided candidates with this supporting briefing document that draws together information from a range of policy, services and issue experts and survivor-advocates. The brief explains the numerous initiatives, under each pledge area, that need to be actioned. Fair Agenda supported candidates with a briefing document (click for PDF)
The Pledge for a Safer future is endorsed by:
- Australian Women Against Violence Alliance
- National Association of Services against Sexual Violence
- Women With Disabilities Australia
- Change The Record
- Domestic Violence NSW
- Safe and Equal
- Ending Violence Against Women Queensland
- The National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum
- No To Violence
- Australian Women's Health Network
- Australian Democracy Network
- Centre for Women's Safety and Wellbeing
- Women's Health and Equality Queensland
- Rosie Batty AO
During the last parliament brave advocates focused a spotlight on women's safety, and called for action. Fair Agenda has scored the major parties' voting records, policy commitments and public statements from the 46th parliament score against what's needed to address gender-based violence, in four categories.
Evidence shows that gender inequality is a key driver of violence against women. To prevent gender-based violence, we must target gender inequality, and the attitudes, social norms and practices that provide an enabling environment for it. This work must be done at the individual, institutional and systemic levels - and reach people where they live, learn, work and socialise.
To improve safety outcomes, we must ensure there are no gaps in the service safety net victim-survivors rely on for their safety and recovery.
Experts estimate that a minimum of $1 billion of annual federal funding will be needed to properly implement the forthcoming National Plan to End Violence Against Women and their Children, for the length of the 10 year plan.
The Federal government should ensure the legal and institutional systems it shapes help - not hurt - victim-survivors. Too often, women and victim-survivors are failed by laws and institutions that should support their wellbeing.
Current legal and institutional responses to violence neglect the needs of First Nations women, culturally and linguistically diverse women, LGBTIQA+ communities and people with disability. Aged and disability care homes remain sites of sexual abuse and violence; and too many universities fail to adequately prevent or respond to gender-based violence with little consequence. These kinds of system failures can prevent women and children from escaping gendered violence and lead to re-traumatisation.
In 2020 the Sex Discrimination Commissioner reported on her national inquiry into sexual harassment. She found that our current laws are 'simply no longer fit for purpose', and made 55 recommendations for change - many of which require action from the federal government to be realised.
Allegations of gendered misconduct by members of the last federal parliament have been included, regardless of outcomes of internal or police investigations. The range of gendered misconduct includes allegations of sexual assault and harrassment, gendered bullying and degradation of women reported in the media.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I contact Fair Agenda?
You can reach the Fair Agenda team via firstname.lastname@example.org If you’re a candidate, you can update your pledge response by contacting us at email@example.com Media can contact Fair Agenda spokes via firstname.lastname@example.org
Who developed the pledge?
The areas and actions detailed in the pledge are endorsed by a broad range of policy, service and issue experts, including: Australian Women Against Violence Alliance, National Association of Services against Sexual Violence, Women With Disabilities Australia, Change The Record, Domestic Violence NSW, Safe and Equal, Ending Violence Against Women Queensland, The National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum, WESNET, No To Violence, Australian Women’s Health Network, Australian Democracy Network, Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing, Women’s Health and Equality Queensland and Rosie Batty AO.
What was included in allegations of gendered misconduct?
Fair Agenda want to ensure a proper, independent and consistent process is put in place to deal with any and all allegations of gendered misconduct.
Fair Agenda are providing voters with information about the reported allegations of gendered misconduct in the last parliament to keep the Set the Standard reform actions on the agenda, and push for a strong code of conduct that would capture allegations like these in the next parliament.
Allegations of gendered misconduct by members of the last federal parliament have been listed, regardless of outcomes of internal or police investigations. Any reported outcomes of investigations were included. The range of gendered misconduct includes: allegations of sexual assault and harrassment, gendered bullying, degradation of women, physical or financial abuse. This includes historical allegations and allegations that occurred within the sitting of the last parliament as long as they were reported in at least two credible media sources.
They did not include any consenting workplace relationships, or where bullying did not include an explicitly gendered component. A number of allegations at the state level, including bullying allegations, were not listed as they are not federal allegations. Some examples of allegations that were not in scope include: Kimberley Kitching (bullying not explicitly gendered) Gareth Ward (state level) Michael Johnson (state level) Victorian Greens (state level)
How did you score parties’ track records?
Scores in each category were determined against criteria set in consultation with a range of organisations with policy expertise. Click here to see the detailed analysis behind each score.
Policies for prevention were scored out of a possible 4:
- 1 point was available for action to address gender inequality, a key driver of gender-based violence
- 1 point was available for investment in national prevention organisation Our Watch
- 1 point was available for investment in developing the prevention workforce
- 1 point was available for a commitment to expert-led respectful relationships education and its implementation - as one key lever to prevent violence.
Policies on service funding were scored out of a possible 6:
- 1 point was available for overall funding commitments to address gender-based violence
- 1 point was available for investment in specialist sexual, domestic and family violence services
- 1 point was available for investment in specialist legal assistance services that help survivors navigate the legal system
- 1 point was available for investment in specialist accredited behaviour change interventions with perpetrators
- 1 point was available for investment in safe housing
- 1 point was available for support and service access for women on temporary visas
Policies on systems reform were scored out of a possible 4:
- 1 point was available for voting not to the Family Court
- 1 point was available for commitment to holding federally governed and/or funded institutions accountable on gender-based violence
- 1 point was available for action on laws, policies and practices that undermine the safety and wellbeing of women and victim-survivors
- 1 point was available for support of 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave for all workers
Policies on safer workplaces were scored based on their action on key recommendations from the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Respect @ Work report, in the regulatory and legal framework section. Parties votes were scored out of a possible 8:
- 1 point was available for supporting a prohibition on the creation of a hostile, sexist working environment (Recommendation 16(c))
- 1 point was available for supporting the introduction of a positive duty (Recommendation 17)
- 1 point was available for supporting a new inquiry power for the Commission (Recommendation 19)
- 1 point was available for supporting representative and/or collective claims (Recommendation 23)
- 1 point was available for implementing the recommendation on damages and costs (Recommendation 25)
- 1 point was available for voting for an express prohibition on sexual harassment (Recommendation 28)
- 1 point was available for supporting a stop sexual harassment order (Recommendation 29)
- 1 point was available for voting to make sexual harassment a valid reason for dismissal (Recommendation 30, 31 & 32)
The overall scores were determined by percentage: 0 - 19% - Alarming 20 - 49% - Poor 50 - 79% - Okay 80 - 100% - Strong
The scores and analysis in the four areas above have been developed in consultation with policy experts, including: Australian Women's Health Network, Domestic Violence NSW, Change The Record, Ending Violence Against Women Queensland, and the Centre for Women's Safety and Wellbeing.
About the pledge
To create a safer future, our parliament must take decisive action. There are six key areas for action - from funding specialist services to making workplaces safer - our political leaders need to make a priority for women's safety.
If you'd like to see the next Parliament take stronger action for women's safety, ask your candidates to take the Pledge for a Safer Future.