Family Violence

SWAN supports efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate Family Violence.

SWAN members joined the March 4 Justice in Rosebud on 15th March 2021.   The Mayor Despi O'Connor and Deputy Mayor Sarah Race made the following inspiring speeches at this event.

Despi O'Connor

On behalf of the Mornington Peninsula Shire I would like to acknowledge and pay our respect to the elders, families and ancestors of the Bunurong/Boon Wurrung people, who have been the custodians of this land for many thousands of years.  

We acknowledge that the land on which we meet is the place of age-old ceremonies, celebrations, initiation and renewal; and that the Bunurong/Boon Wurrung peoples’ living culture continues to have a unique role in the life of this region. 

 So in the language of the traditional owners – Wominjeka. Welcome. 

I’d also like to acknowledge:  

  • Cr Celi for joining us here today
  • All the volunteers who have helped make this event happen 
  • Bendigo Bank 
  • Rosebud Secondary College 
  • Dreamhouse Theatre company 

 Although International Women’s day allows us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and girls in our workplaces and communities, it is often marred (as it is again this year), by the injustices of a system that is built by men for men. 

 So I am going to start by talking about all men… 

 Until all men recognise that our society is built on principles that support them we have very little hope of reaching gender equity.  

Until all men realise they have a responsibility to assist with this change we will not shift the inequity that is etched into our very lives. 

 Until all men act when there is wrong doing we will not see justice for our girls and women. 

 Indeed we need all men to step up. We need all men to see the privilege that is afforded them in all aspects of our lives. 

 In case you’re a little unsure about whether gender inequality still exists today,  

here are some facts:  

  • Australian men take home, on average,  $25,717 per year more than women.
  • Women do three times the amount of unpaid work than men.
  • Gender balance has remained static at senior levels with female CEOs only making up 17.1% and female representation on Boards at 25.8%.
  • Women’s average full-time pay across all industries and occupations is 21.3% less than men.
  • And then there’s the sexual objectification of women. This can have the effect of de-humanising women, leading to further inequality and sexual violence. In fact 1 in 5 women in Australia have experienced sexual violence.
  • And there is solid research that tells us that gender inequality is one of the key drivers of family violence. 
  • Women in our community are experiencing all forms of violence far too often. This includes physical, emotional, psychological, verbal and sexual violence.
  • Unfortunately, Victoria Police reported 2,211 family violence incidents on the Mornington Peninsula in 2019-2020. 
  • We know that 1 Australian woman per week is killed by her current or former partner and that 1 in 4 women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence.  
  • This means that many of you here will have likely experienced violence or knows a woman who has experienced violence.  
  • And that is why we need to continue to tackle this topic. We MUST keep talking. 
  • I’m so proud to be representing a Council that last year launched its first ever Gender Equality Strategy. This work starts a conversation around how we can engage more women rather than why we can’t. 
  • Across Victoria almost 44% of local councillors are now women, a big increase on the previous figure of 38%. It’s a big step towards the goal of equal representation by 2025. And of course our own council has six women out of a possible 11 positions with female mayor and deputy to lead us on the journey. 
  • So, I say to all women, please don’t underestimate the impact you can have. Be the change. Challenge the status quo. Speak when your voice shakes. Don’t be silenced. 
  • Lift the women who are either side of you. Comfort and strengthen those who are broken. Stand in solidarity when it counts. Raise your girls to be independent and fierce. Encourage them to see beauty in their strength and intellect. Their bodies are a vehicle to their success not a trophy for others to raise above their heads. 
  • I’m absolutely delighted to be here today to listen to your stories.  
  • Sharing our stories and transforming them through theatre, brings us together. 
  • It makes us feel less alone and provides inspiration for whatever challenges we are facing. 
  • It’s a great way to celebrate our shared humanity in a safe and engaging way. 
  • I’m pleased the Shire is able to support this worthwhile project and provide funding to allow it to take place. 
  • I am so glad I could join you to celebrate International Women’s day! I encourage you all to keep striving for your goals. Follow your dreams,  Control your own journey. 
  • I hope you enjoy this very special performance!  

Thank you. 

Sarah Race

 I acknowledge that we meet on the lands of the Bunurong/Boon Wurrung people, the custodians of the land and sea of our beautiful Peninsula. I pay respects to their elders past and present and those of other Indigenous lands here today. 

 I want to recognise the kaleidoscope of sisters we have present; our black sisters, our rainbow sisters, our disabled sisters and our sisters from across the seas, each with their own battles before them. 

I want to recognise our allies and supporters.

 Today we stand united. 

 We march today against a justice system 

That does not see us

That does not hear us

That does not believe us

A system where

  • 1 in 3 females are abused before they are 18
  • 1 in 5 females have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15
  • And 93% of these offenders are male

And yet, sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes where victims are invisible in official statistics.

So today we march for justice

We see you

We hear you

We believe you

 We march today to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough.

For Millenia women’s bodies have been used as tools of war - we’ve been raped to breed out our ethnicity.

Our bodies have been marked as property to be transferred from father to husband.

Our bodies have been used as economic tools “ have one for you, one for your husband, and one for your country”

We’ve been told 

 “Lie back and think of England”,

 “ Come on love it’ll only take a minute”

 “You know you want to”

We’ve had our babies stolen from us

We’ve been called Whores, Bitches and Prudes. 

But today we say enough!

We will defend our bodies, and we will decided who touches them, and the circumstances in which that happens!

We see you

We hear you

We believe you

 We march today for hope. 

We’ve picked up the baton from our great grandmothers, our grandmothers and our mothers; we are standing on the shoulders of Giantesses! 

In 1894 South Australian women were the first in the world to win the right to vote and stand for parliament.

In 1920 Mary Rogers became the first women councillor in Victoria.

In 2010 Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female Prime Minister.

As a community leader, I have the privilege of leading a Council where for the first time  we have a female mayor and deputy mayor.

Where we are embedding a gender equity strategy.

Where we have reaffirmed our commitment to the women’s charter.

And where our leaders, and officers, are proudly proclaiming themselves as feminists!

We see you

We hear you

We believe you

 Women are over 50% of the population. We have the power to influence decisions, and we can raise our voices and be heard. 

 A final flourish of hope from the awe-inspiring work, The Hill We Climb, by Amanda Gorman

 We will rise from the sunbaked south.

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.

And every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful.

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid,

the new dawn blooms as we free it.

For there is always light,

if only we're brave enough to see it.

If only we're brave enough to be it