23 Nov, 2016 Last updated: 23 Nov, 2016

A young Australian woman wakes up and goes about her day.

First published in the Bendigo Advertiser, 23 November 2016.

A young Australian woman wakes up and goes about her day.Jerril Rechter

Her brother, her father and her son love her very much and know that as a woman, she faces challenges they don’t: like feeling unsafe walking home at night, or feeling overlooked at work just because she’s a woman.

Or what it’s like to dread going home, thinking ‘how will he hurt me today?’

But it is in their power to acknowledge such a widespread issue, the proof of which is impossible to ignore.

Men need to recognise that a young woman is more likely to be sick or killed as a result of intimate partner violence than as a result of smoking, poor diet or illegal drug use.

This appalling fact featured in the new ANROWS burden of disease study. Sadly these figures haven’t changed significantly since VicHealth did its first study on the same subject over 10 years ago.

Research tells us this violence starts with inequality between women and men. And every man can do something about that.

On the 25th of November, White Ribbon Day and the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, it’s important to reflect and acknowledge that violence against women is more likely to occur in contexts of unequal power relationships between men and women. 

So it’s particularly worrying that a recent VicHealth survey found around one third of Victorians hold low levels of support for gender equality in relationships.

Violence against women is everyone’s problem. But importantly, everyone can be part of the solution.

Working together, we can do so much more to end violence. We can take responsibility for making sure every woman feels safe in her own home, workplace, sports field and community. We can stand up to sexist attitudes and call out disrespect for women when we see it.

Every brother, father and son can make a difference to one woman’s day.

Jerril Rechter
VicHealth Chief Executive Officer