While International Women’s Day is seen by many as a day to celebrate the milestones of gender equality, for far too many Northern Territory women discrimination remains a frightening fact of life.
The Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Sally Sievers says equality is not being achieved in the Territory, particularly when women and children are deprived of the fundamental right to be safe and free from violence.
“Violence against women is the worst form of discrimination against women,” Ms Sievers said.
“Hospital and crime statistics paint a gruesome picture of domestic and family violence in the Northern Territory, and it is not just women that are suffering. Territory children often witness family violence which impacts their childhood development and results in long term consequences for their health.”
In Australia a woman is killed by a current or former partner each week.*
One in three Australia women have experienced violence since the age of 15 and almost one in five have experienced sexual violence. (ABS 2012)
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) statistics from 2010 reveal in 2009/2010 that 27 non-indigenous women in the Northern Territory were admitted to hospital for treatment after being assaulted. In the same period and for same reason over 840 Aboriginal women were admitted, Territory Aboriginal women are 80 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of assault.
Homicide rates in the Northern Territory show that 61% of homicides occur in a domestic context. The Territory homicide rate is also starkly higher than other jurisdictions, with 8.2 per 100 000 compared to the national rate of 1.2 per 100 000 people.
“The solutions need to be long term and day to day,” Ms Sievers said.
“The NT Government is currently working on a Domestic and Family Violence Reduction Strategy to meet its national obligations and arrive at a multi-facet approach to meet the needs of our diverse community.
“It is crucial that this plan includes and expands the reach of programs that are known to work in the NT, such as the Outreach Program at the Alice Springs Women’s Shelter -providing early intervention and support for women and their children.
“Domestic and family violence is a community problem and needs the whole community to be involved in the solutions. We must look at a number of ways to prevent this situation, we need to educate people of respectful relationships right from our school children through to our leaders.
“As we approach International Women’s Day let’s reflect on what we as individuals and as a community can do to ensure all women and children are afforded this basic human right to be safe and free from violence.”
The Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner will speak at the Working Women’s Centre showing of the film Girl Rising on Friday 7 March 2014 and the International Women’s Day Walk – Saturday 8 March 2014 at Parliament House.
For further information on International Women’s Day activities in the Northern Territory go to https://www.facebook.com/#!/OfficeOfWomensAdvancement
*Chan, A and Payne, J (2013). Homicide in Australia: 2008 -09 to 2009-10 National Homicide Monitoring Program annual report. Canberra. Australian Institute of Criminology. <http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/mr/21/mr21.pdf>