Australia’s CEO Challenge
Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (9.35 pm)—I wish to speak tonight about the Ipswich Business Breakfast Forum I attended on 6 February 2009, which was in relation to Australia’s CEO Challenge, a workplace partnering against domestic violence. When a CEO takes up the challenge against domestic violence, their organisation can make a real difference to the lives of women and children.
Partnering with and supporting women’s refuges and domestic violence prevention programs is crucial, and one in particular was taken up and assisted in my electorate— that is, the Ipswich Women’s Centre Against Domestic Violence, a great organisation performing wonderful work for women and children in my electorate.
Australia’s CEO Challenge Executive Director is Wendy Reid, a very committed community worker whose vision is a world without domestic violence. Preventing domestic violence in family life and workplace situations is crucial not just economically but in terms of social justice and equity in our community. Facilitating partnerships between business and refuges is extremely important, and business can make an important contribution to assisting the relief of women and children who suffer this dreadful violence.
In 2008 the World Health Organisation said there are 1.6 million deaths per year from violence in our world. Fifty-four per cent of all deaths are self-inflicted—that is, suicide—35 per cent are from intimate and family violence and 11 per cent are from collective violence—that is, war. The Australian public would be very surprised to know that 35 per cent of deaths in our world each
year are from intimate and family violence, whereas only 11 per cent are from warfare.
Every two weeks in Australia two women leave their homes suffering from domestic violence. In 2006, according to figures, 116 adult deaths took place in Australia from domestic violence. Acts of domestic violence can be:
- controlling what a woman spends her money on,
- controlling what she wears,
- harassment and intimidation,
- threats to person and property,
- all manner of physical assaults and sexual assaults and,
- simply, controlling behaviour.
In my life before this parliament I acted in family law for more than 20 years and both
prosecuted and defended thousands of cases involving domestic violence, so I know that
intimate family relationships—relationships of blood, marriage and culture—are perilous
for women and children. One in three women experiences domestic violence in
their relationships. The Queensland Police Service estimates that about 30,000 instances
of domestic violence are dealt with by Queensland police annually. However, many
go unreported, so there are many more than that. Signs at work include bruises, frequent
accidents, vague explanations, plans being cancelled at the last minute, having to check
things with their husband or partner, changes in behaviour, unexplained sick days, frequent
calls and emails from their husband or partner and long hours spent at work simply to avoid going home.
The impact of domestic violence on our workplaces is enormous. Four million women and six million men are in the workplace in Australia. It is estimated by a report to the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Women’s Advisory Committee entitled Impacts and costs of domestic violence on the Australian business/corporate sector[rtf file] that domestic violence costs $1.5 billion annually in direct and indirect costs and opportunities lost. Access Economics, in its 2004 report The cost of
domestic violence to the Australian economy, estimates that domestic violence cost our
economy $8.1 billion in 2003.
I urge all CEOs and all businesses in my community and nationally to get behind Australia’s
CEO Challenge to harness the power of the workplace to tackle domestic violence. It is important that the patterns of power and control, including physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and financial abuse, are gotten rid of in our workplaces and in our family life. The repercussions for women and children in my community and in the community nationally are horrendous. We should do everything we can in our workplaces to ensure that women are protected so that their children
can have lives of fulfilment free from domestic violence. I commend Australia’s CEO Challenge for the work they do.