Last week I wrote to the Prime Minister to clarify my call for a gathering in response to the call from the women of Australia to be heard. The gathering was then called a summit in the shorthand of the media, but the two are very different in nature.
There are other proposals about, but this is mine.
I intended that women from across the nation be engaged in regional meetings so a grassroots expression of the issues faced by women would be heard. To that end, I believe representatives from each Local Government Area would host regional gatherings and bring forward issues that are particular to their area. There are major differences between a gathering and a summit. The gatherings would include no politicians, the summit would. The gatherings are grass-roots, the summit will draw on the previous Commonwealth/State format. The gatherings would be regional, the summit would be held in Canberra I expect. The gatherings would involve local governments, the summit would focus on the States and Territories. The gatherings are about deep listening and understanding, the summit about new strategies and funding. The gatherings will focus on local prevention strategies, the summit on national strategies and support for those currently in crisis and those who need assistance following abuse. There is no reason that these two initiatives could not complement each other.
I was pleased to read this morning that the Prime Minister has gone part way to receiving broader input by inviting all Australians to voice their views via an online questionnaire, available on the government’s Engage website: engage.dss.gov.au/
And I encourage everyone to take up this opportunity. However, I maintain that embracing the voices of women who, by reason of location, often feel they are not heard is extremely important. This would be a direct response to the calls of both women and men who are demanding immediate action to address Australia’s shameful levels of violence against women and children.
That’s just as I see it.