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Respect for Women

23 Mar | '2021

I rise to talk about ‘boys to men’. We know that some boys grow up to be men who disrespect women and children of both sexes. It’s not exclusively men, but, overwhelmingly, it is males who perpetrate against the most vulnerable in our society. Women will not gain respect by simply demanding it. It’s about men extending respect through learning, or relearning, where the boundaries lie for women and children to be respected. It is disrespect that leads to harassment, innuendo, advances or, at its worst, the sexual abuse and violence which exists across all political colours. It’s across demographics, in the home, in workplaces, in public, across our country, and, most importantly, it’s across generations and is intergenerational. I want to add to the current national debate that men and women must unite on this issue, not be divided. It is together that we can effect the most change and the best change. It’s like occupational health and safety; it is everybody’s responsibility. It’s for all of us to respect each and every one of us.

There is an abundance of good men, including here in this place, and I believe the future of this issue lies in part with them. Good men hold the key as role models to inspire and educate the future generation of good men who do not abuse or harass women and children. The good men at MOB Academy, or Men of Business, in Southport in my electorate are making a difference by building better men. Their mantra is to effectively support the large portion of students with varying levels of social and emotional issues with an extensive support program to help engage students in learning and assist them to develop the necessary life skills that will support them to become happy, healthy, successful and contributing members of our community. When one at-risk boy has a positive role model to help him grow into a fine young man, it affects his whole community. His family, his peers, his workmates, his own life and, importantly, the women and girls around him are respected. I applaud the efforts of the good men Marco Renai and Damien Gow at MOB Academy who have inspired and educated over 1,000 at-risk boys to date, with 100 at the academy on the Gold Coast right now. I applaud men who care deeply about these issues that affect the lives of Australians, whether it’s direct generational abuse or the violence, crime or bad and inappropriate behaviour that is a symptom of it. Men and women must work together to stop this cycle. The solution is not singular, but intervention at a critical age, as MOB Academy does, builds better men.

The other areas of improvement that I want to talk about are the recent shake-up of the federal family law court to minimise delays and costs to families. It’s an important step in the right direction, but more can always be done. I and other colleagues have made representations to the minister about the importance of equity and adequacy issues for women’s economic security and superannuation. I think there should be also a lens applied across all portfolios that delivers better outcomes for women through policy applications. This is a broader approach to a problem that is broad and far reaching. Finally, I would like to see the inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence due out next week highlighted on the national cabinet standing agenda, to look at how to improve outcomes for women who live daily with this threat and this reality. I am interested in addressing the root cause. The bandaid solution of wrap-around services provided by the states to support women and children who face domestic violence and sexual abuse helps victims greatly, but it’s not sustainable into the future and does not change the behaviour or address the problem.

I would like to finish by reassuring those who voted for me to come here to this place that my personal experience has been a good one. I have not been disrespected by men in the LNP. In fact, I’m pleased that I am here in this place while our parliament and our country change our culture. Very many men—too many to mention, but they know who they are—have supported me to represent my community and add to this very debate. Let’s not forget that, without their support and their respect, I and many other women would not be here. I say to Australians that I do not support men who abuse, violate or disrespect women, nor does my party, nor does my government, and nor does my Prime Minister—your Prime Minister, a good man who is doing the right thing for all Australians.

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