Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Elimination of violence against women

  • 24 November 2022
Every year the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is celebrated on 25 November. This year it is particularly significant because it follows shortly after the release of the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children. The Plan goes beyond exhortation and good intentions to propose a ten year project to eliminate violence against women in a generation. The plan will be followed by two detailed five-year action plans, backed up by set targets and reviews. Crucially, it enjoys the support of Federal and State Governments.  Of course, as has been the case with the commitment to close the gap between Indigenous and other Australians, large initial hopes may be disappointed. The implementation of plans is always the most difficult challenge.  

The National Plan itself is impressive in its seriousness and focus. It identifies a national scandal and names it uncompromisingly. Its focus is on persons who have been wronged, on the violence which they have suffered and on its lasting effects on their health and confidence. It asserts that domestic violence is overwhelmingly suffered by women and children, and is overwhelmingly inflicted by men. The extent of violence is illustrated by the claim that one in three women have suffered from physical violence after they are fifteen years old, and that one in five have experienced sexual violence.

This focus on the persons who have suffered violence shapes the goal of the National Plan. Its intent is to spare people intolerable pain and abuse by eliminating violence. This focus on persons draws it beyond identifying, exploring and apportioning blame. It also names what must change if persons are not to suffer, states how it can be changed, establishes processes of evaluation, and sets dates by which change must take place.

The tight and practical focus on the persons who suffer from violence paradoxically leads to a very broad survey of what is involved in a proper response. Persons, as distinct from individuals, are defined and shaped by their interlocking relationships. All these are salient to their experience of violence and freeing themselves from it.  They include personal relations to parents, children, partners, friends and neighbours, institutional relations to police, courts, hospitals, schools, banks, churches, and government departments of health and welfare. They also include cultural relationships involved in personal history, religion, peer group influences and environment. Because violence against women involves a destructive relationship with men, to