Canberra Women's Forum - 13/05/2021

13 May 2021


I rise this morning to talk about the women's forum that I held in my electorate, on 1 May, with Senator Katy Gallagher. First of all, I want to thank everyone who attended. There were many women, men as well, and I thank them for sharing their stories, their experiences and their ideas. I've actually just had to leave Labor's women's budget statement announcement to give this speech, which is ironic, but it's good to be here. It was another proud day for Labor talking about our proud history of putting equality at the centre of our policies.

Katy and I held the forum in response to the groundswell around the issues of women's inequality that we've seen over the last few months. The experiences of sexism and violence and inappropriate behaviour that have come out of this parliament have hit a nerve around the country, and that is because women around the country are experiencing these same issues in their workplaces, in their homes, in their community. We have a deep-seated cultural problem in this country that sees one woman killed, on average, every nine days by a partner or former partner, and we need to address these issues with urgency. It was around these issues that we held the forum. There were many Canberrans who had written to me and Senator Gallagher, so we thought it was a great opportunity to sit and listen and to pass on these ideas to the ministers for women and to our caucus.

Since the forum, we have had the opportunity to put those ideas into letters and send them on. People are angry that these issues continue, and they are angry that they have not seen the parliament deal with this appropriately. We have seen, this week, every member of the government vote to maintain the member for Bowman in his position as a committee chair, in spite of the things that he has been doing that are completely inappropriate and have no place for a representative in this place.

I want to talk quickly, in the time that I have, about the ideas that were raised by women in Canberra. The key themes of the forum were around keeping women safe, that our justice system needs to be centred more around survivors than perpetrators, the fact that we need to keep women safe when we know that they have a threat against them. Women's economic security is intrinsically linked with these issues, and we talked about the way that we can better support women and the complex issues that face women from diverse cultural backgrounds. We have a real moment here that we need to seize, and I look forward to pursuing the issues that my electorate have put forward on this matter.