The issue that has politicians from all sides standing up together.

Meet the politicians opposing domestic violence together.

By Tim Watts on behalf of Andrew Broad and Ken Wyatt. 

What does it take for politicians from different political parties to stop fighting and start working together towards a shared goal?

For National MP Andrew Broad, Liberal MP Ken Wyatt and myself, it was our community’s failure to stop the weekly deaths women at the hands of their partners or ex-partners in our country.

Like many Australians, 12 months ago I didn’t know much about men’s violence against women. Then, in April of last year, a woman was murdered in my electorate. Police allege that Fiona Warzywoda was stabbed to death by her partner, in front of her children, at lunch time on the main street of a suburb in my electorate. At the candlelight vigil that followed, you could feel the sense of shock in the community.

“I’m ashamed to say that before this I was unaware of the prevalence of men’s violence against women in our community.”

It was a wake-up call for me. I’m ashamed to say that before this I was unaware of the prevalence of men’s violence against women in our community. I didn’t know that around one in five women have experienced violence from a current or former partner. I didn’t know that over 17,000 family violence intervention orders were issued in Victoria alone in 2013/14. I didn’t know that around one woman a week was killed by a current or former partner in Australia – a figure that has grown to two a week so far this year.

More: “Domestic violence occurs in every class, culture and community.”

After meeting with the advocates and service providers who have been working in this space for decades I was embarrassed. I thought about all of the women I loved and respected in my life -friends, family, work colleagues. I thought about what many of them must have experienced, might still be experiencing. I thought about what my daughter might experience in the future. Then I thought, “This is why I got into politics”. Things need to change and I need to be a part of it.

Tim: “This is why I got into politics”. Pictured here (far right) with Andrew Broad, Ken Wyatt and Rosie Batty.

Over the past 12 months, more people in the community and more MPs are becoming aware of this issue and demanding action. Ken Wyatt, Andrew Broad and I wanted to ensure that this increasing community awareness was also hitting home with MPs in Canberra. That’s why we formed the Parliamentarians Against Family Violence group to ensure that advocates, service providers and most importantly of all, survivors, could tell their story directly to Members of Parliament.

On Monday of this week, the Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, another survivor, Jennifer Jackson and Our Watch addressed this group. Around 50 MPs from all sides of politics came to hear them speak and stayed for over an hour. You could have heard a pin drop in the room as people listened to their stories.

Read more: The system let Rosie Batty down. But she stood up.

The CEO of Our Watch, Paul Linossier explained why gender inequality is at the heart of men’s violence against women. Jennifer gave a first-hand account of why it was often so difficult for women to escape abusive partners. Finally, Rosie Batty posed a direct challenge for everyone there. She asked us “What will we do?” to stop men’s violence against women.

You could have heard a pin drop in the room as people listened to Rosie Batty.

It’s time to start turning the increased community awareness of this issue, and the bipartisan goodwill into real action. Yesterday, Labor invited the Prime Minister to convene a national crisis summit on family violence and announced a $70m interim package to fund front line legal services, perpetrator accountability and Safe at Home programs. I’m really pleased that the PM has agreed to consider these proposals.

We know what needs to be done to end men’s violence against women. So let’s do it. Let’s do it together and let’s do it now.

Tim is the Federal Labor Member for Gellibrand in Melbourne’s Inner West. He is the Co-Convenor of the Parliamentarians Against Family Violence Group and is an active White Ribbon Ambassador. He lives in Footscray with his wife and two young children. You can connect with Tim via Facebook or Twitter

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