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International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: AASW stands with Generation Equality against rape



On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 25 November, the AASW supports this year’s theme and stands with Generation Equality against rape. Violence against women is our national shame, made worse by the disproportional rates of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in this country.

AASW National President Christine Craik said, “While the legends, folklore and contemporary Australian culture continue to celebrate and be dominated by the overwhelming importance and attention of all things masculine, such as mateship, and male sporting legends - little attention is paid to the consequences of this entitlement, namely violence against women and girls in the form of rape, sexual assault and family violence.”

Social movements such as #MeToo are building on decades of feminist work, assisting new generations to become galvanised, aware, and to join older activists in addressing this toxic culture and the silencing of women’s voices that allows rape culture to continue. We know sexual violence is an epidemic in Australia and we know the majority of women do not feel safe or supported to report these crimes to anyone, let alone the police.

Ms Craik said, “Australia is a country built on white patriarchal structures which continue to enable and deliver unequal power to men over women, and despite some advancements in gender equality, women in this country bear the brunt of this on a daily basis.  This gendered inequality plays out in all facets of social life, including the fact that we have one of the most gender-divided workforces in the world with ‘women’s work’ being valued less on every measurement.

“In social work, we know this only too well.  Our profession of social work is female-dominated, with many social workers having their own lived experiences of violence against women.  We are equally or more skilled and educated than most male-dominated professions and we often face elements of risk in practice, including exposure to further violence.”

Yet social work, like so many other female-dominated professions, continues to be paid less than most male dominated professions. The continuing message this sends to society is that women and their work are not as valued as men.

Ms Craik said, “This pernicious message informs the attitude of the wider culture and enables the continuation of male entitlement, the result of which makes women vulnerable to violence.

“As social workers, we know that violence against women is a complex social problem with white patriarchal structures at its core, leading to continued gender inequality.  The skills of social workers in identifying and working with systemic discrimination such as this, leaves the profession is in a unique position to address the structural causes of violence against women while also assisting victim-survivors at an individual level.  

“We obviously have a long way to go in dismantling the foundations that result in violence against women and we call on the Australian government to examine the ways in which so many of our cultural and social structures contribute to this, especially those practices that are not safe for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.  These is a desperate need to do this, alongside an increase in funding for primary prevention, early intervention, crisis work and recovery.  We need real action, right now.”

AASW will attend the Annual Walk Against Family Violence in Melbourne, Victoria today at 12.00pm in Federation Square.