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

Jesuit Social Services

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

Illawarra Women’s Health Centre

Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre

Queen Victoria Women’s 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

Change the Record

National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum