Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Australian PM: Time To Stop The Silence On Male Violence

Wednesday, 29 April, 2009
AAP Newsfeed (Australia)
Author: Kate Hannon

CANBERRA -- Australian men need to take responsibility for changing the behaviour that leads to violence against women and children, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says.

It is time to end the silence which indicates a tolerance of violent behaviour affecting 350,000 women every year, at a cost to the nation of $13.6 billion, he said.

"Because for too long, silence has been seen as a form of tolerance," Mr Rudd said in a speech in Canberra on Wednesday.

"And our national resolve must be zero tolerance. Zero tolerance when it comes to violence against women and violence against children."

Mr Rudd announced funding of $41.5 million over four years for new services to help victims of violence and to develop "respectful relationships" programs.

The funding includes $17 million for a public information campaign aimed at young men and at highlighting role models to help change attitudes and behaviours.

Mr Rudd also launched a report, Time for Action, prepared by consultants KPMG for the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.

The report examines the extent of violence in the community.

Speaking at the launch at Narrabundah College in Canberra, Mr Rudd said nearly one in three women experienced physical violence in their lifetime and one in five were victims of sexual assault.

Mr Rudd promised to put the issue on the agenda of future Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meetings between the federal government and state leaders.

Mr Rudd said he wanted COAG to develop a "cross-government" plan to reduce violence against women and children.

The federal government will adopt 18 of 20 recommendations put forward by the council, including spending $12.5 million on a new national phone and online crisis service to be run by professional staff.

There will also be $3 million for research on perpetrator treatment and nationally consistent laws.

Mr Rudd said test programs would be rolled out this year at 31 sites, including schools, to help young people develop respectful relationships.

The sites include 15 schools in the Northern Territory, nine sites in Victoria, Tasmania and NSW, four schools in the ACT and a youth sports squad in Queensland.

The program will also be tested in three remote schools in the Kimberley region in Western Australia at Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing and Oombulgarri.

The KPMG study warned if no action was taken the number of women reporting violence would climb to 750,000 by 2021.

The annual cost to the nation would be $15.6 billion.

"The experience of seeing mum attacked or threatened with violence can leave

scars on children that remain for many, many years beyond childhood," Mr Rudd said.

"For some, those scars never heal."

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