Legislative Council


November 29th, 2017

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I rise today to speak about the White Ribbon campaign. We all know the statistics: one woman per week on average in Australia is killed by an intimate partner and one in three women will suffer domestic or sexual violence or abuse in her lifetime. We also know that the vast bulk of perpetrators are men.

Last Friday, many MPs attended the annual White Ribbon breakfast in support of the campaign to end men's violence against women. The guest speaker was Dr Michael Kaufman from Canada, who is co-founder of the White Ribbon campaign globally. He described how three men got together in response to an horrific university shooting in which the gunman targeted female students. They agreed that something should be done and that ultimately men should take responsibility. The rest, as they say, is history. White Ribbon is now a global movement operating in dozens of countries around the world, and I am proud that South Australia leads the nation and that Adelaide regularly hosts the biggest White Ribbon breakfast and the most community events.

The following day, last Saturday, in the morning several hundred of us, including many MPs, marched from Victoria Square to Parliament House to show our support for the campaign and to recommit to never commit or excuse violence against women or to stand by in the face of such violence. Saturday was also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. I expect that a number of MPs are, like me, members of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, and that organisation, in celebrating or commemorating, or however you put it, that particular day put out a statement with the theme of Leave No One Behind: End Violence Against Women and Girls. So it is a big day in the antiviolence calendar.

What I really want to draw members' attention to is the fact that just recently the Victorian parliament became the first parliament in the world to be accredited as a White Ribbon workplace. I will read just a few sentences from a press release that came out recently under the heading, 'Victorian Parliament makes White Ribbon history':

The Victorian parliament has made White Ribbon history by becoming the first parliament in the world to achieve White Ribbon workplace accreditation. White Ribbon Australia has today officially recognised the Victorian parliament as a pioneer in contributing to the national cultural change to prevent and respond to violence against women.

Legislative Council President Bruce Atkinson and Legislative Assembly Speaker Colin Brooks welcomed the accreditation announcement. 'This is a significant achievement for the Victorian Parliament and makes us a world leader in helping to prevent violence against women,' the Presiding Officers said. 'Our Parliament's White Ribbon working group has put together members of parliament, electorate officers and parliamentary staff working together to ensure that our shared workplace is committed to the change that is needed nationally to prevent violence against women that affects so many lives.'

I will not go through the rest of that release, but I point out that, whilst our Victorian counterparts are no doubt proud of being the first parliament in the world to achieve such accreditation, there are a number of South Australian institutions that have received White Ribbon accreditation, including a large number of government departments. In fact, if you count all the government departments and all the NGOs there are some 22 from South Australia, so we are certainly doing well on the national stage.

The reason I wanted to put on the record the notion of White Ribbon workplace accreditation is to put fellow MPs on notice that when the parliament resumes after the election next year I will be seeking to get together like-minded MPs who would like the South Australian parliament to be the second parliament in the world to achieve White Ribbon workplace accreditation. If members are interested they can go to the White Ribbon Australia website, where there is a document that sets out the standards and criteria.

It is worth pointing out that it is not just a question of ticking the box and saying that we promise to abide by certain standards; there is a rigorous process that must be gone through. I will be seeking to convene a meeting of MPs next year and writing to the Joint Parliamentary Service Committee urging them to embrace the idea of the South Australian parliament becoming the second in the world to become an accredited White Ribbon workplace.

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