Australia declares violence against women a national crisis as PM calls urgent cabinet meeting

Australian PM says women ‘deserve better’ and calls for ‘immediate, meaningful and practical action to address family violence’

Arpan Rai
Sunday 28 April 2024 14:00 BST
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Australian prime minister lays flowers outside scene of Sydney stabbings

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese has called an urgent national cabinet meeting over violence against women, saying the issue had become a “national crisis” and an “epidemic” as protests took place across the country over the weekend.

Mr Albanese called for all governments across Australia at both the local and federal levels to make changes and focus more on stopping perpetrators.

Thousands gathered in Sydney and other major Australian cities seeking tougher laws on gendered violence after a wave of high-profile incidents against women.

The government said the surge in violence has seen a woman killed every four days this year.

A mass stabbing attack earlier this month killed six people, including five women. Australian police have said they will be investigating whether the attacker Joel Cauchi intentionally targeted women at the Westfield shopping centre at Bondi Junction.

Demonstrators hold placards at rally in Sydney
Demonstrators hold placards at rally in Sydney (Getty)

Mr Albanese said on social media: “Women in Australia deserve better, governments have to do better and as a society we have to do better. That’s why we’ll be convening the national cabinet with one issue on the agenda: immediate, meaningful and practical action to address family violence.”

He took part in a rally in the capital Canberra on Sunday.

Speaking at the No More march organised by advocacy group What Were You Wearing, Mr Albanese said: “Society and Australia must do better. We need to change the culture and we need to change attitudes. We need to change the legal system.”

He added: “It’s not enough to support victims. We need to focus on the perpetrators, focus on prevention.”

Protesters in Sydney on Saturday led a march that closed city streets. They were carrying signs that read “Respect” and “No more violence”.

In Adelaide, around 3,000 people were estimated to have rallied at the city’s parliament building.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum have called for action to tackle the issue.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said “a national emergency response” was needed. She said: “Women are sick and tired of being told ‘yes it’s bad but there’s not much we can do’.”

Similar protests took place across the weekend in state capitals Perth, Western Australia; Melbourne, Victoria; Hobart, Tasmania; and Brisbane, Queensland.

Australia is seeing a surge in gender-based violence, as well as a reckoning over the treatment of women in government. In 2021, tens of thousands rallied over allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct in some of the nation’s highest political offices.

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