Council sends statement on violence against women
By David Schout
The City of Melbourne has pledged to improve women’s safety and participation in its latest violence against women strategy.
A report underpinning the latest Prevention of Violence Against Women Action Plan 2021 - 2024 concluded that women had been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and – given that typically they earn less, have lower savings and often work in less secure roles and industries – women are more vulnerable to economic crisis.
This inequality was “directly linked to violence against women”, and Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council was committed to driving change.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in our city, and this action plan will help us to tackle the problem head on,” she said.
“We know one in three women have experienced at least one incident of violence in their lifetime, and more than half have been sexually harassed. That’s simply unacceptable.”
“The City of Melbourne is committed to transforming the underlying causes of violence against women, and disrupting the drivers of that violence, through targeted actions and initiatives.”
The plan identifies four key areas to target within the next 12 months, including:
Advancing women’s leadership;
Promoting the safety of women and girls in public spaces;
Engaging men and boys in conversations about healthy masculinity, and;
Achieving primary prevention.
Dr Olivia Ball, councillor and chair of the health, wellbeing and belonging portfolio, said the pandemic had further focused the City of Melbourne’s attention on the issue.
“There is emerging evidence that gender equality is getting worse, with the COVID pandemic disproportionately affecting women,” Cr Ball said.
“Having already started from a position of unequal pay and superannuation, more women have lost their jobs and working hours during the pandemic than men. Fewer women have accessed income support to get through the crisis.”
“The action plan recognises the link between gender inequality and gender-based violence and provides immediate actions we can take to turn the tide, to ensure women feel safe and supported in our city.”
The council recently invested almost $3 million in security maintenance and upgrades in the CBD, including $1.8 million to maintain 16,000 street lights.
However, Cr Capp said they also wanted to “do more to promote safe and healthy interactions”.
“Our action plan will complement these important infrastructure projects, with initiatives to address violence against women and support gender equality at a community level. The City of Melbourne must and will show leadership in efforts to reduce, and ultimately end, violence against women.”
Due to the impacts of COVID-19, the council will prepare annual action plans rather than a three-year plan.
Action plans for year two (2022-23) and year three (2023-24) will be prepared and presented to the Future Melbourne Committee at a later date •