Ending violence against women in the Pacific
Australia has a zero tolerance to violence against women, both in Australia and internationally. Australia believes all women have a right to live a life free of violence; we have a responsibility to work for the safety and opportunity of women and girls across the world.
Violence against women and the fear of violence have significant impacts on development outcomes. Violence affects families and communities and limits women’s participation in social, political and economic life. Violence against women places significant strains on health care, social services and policing and justice systems.
Australia has provided long term support in the Pacific to end violence against women. We provide support in four key areas:
- access to justice
Australia’s support for prevention, services and access to justice in the Pacific
Australia committed an additional $25 million over four years in the 2011 Federal Budget to address violence against women in the Pacific. These funds will be used to:
- improve the quality of and expand counselling, crisis accommodation and legal services in the Pacific for survivors of violence
- help raise awareness of and change community attitudes to violence.
Australia supports governments and civil society to promote women’s rights, prevent and respond to violence and provide access to justice for women survivors.
For example, Australia supports the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre which provides counselling, legal, medical and other practical support for women and children survivors of violence. The centre also provides regional training on human rights, runs a male advocacy program and advocates for women's rights. The Centre’s approach to ending violence against women is based on the conviction that violence against women is a fundamental human rights violation.
In 2009 and 2010, the Centre in Suva and its three branches provided counselling and support services to more than 7,000 women survivors of violence. The Centre also supports men to raise awareness of the impact of violence and to challenge community attitudes that condone violence.
The Pacific Women’s Empowerment Policy: Dialogue Stopping Violence Against Women
The Pacific Women’s Empowerment Policy Dialogue: Stopping Violence Against Women was held in Canberra on 2-4 November 2011. It was co-hosted by the Australian and United States governments in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum Reference Group to address sexual and gender-based violence. More than 120 delegates attended the policy dialogue, including donors, private sector, government and civil society organisations from 14 Pacific Island countries.
The policy dialogue stemmed from a joint announcement by the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd and US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in November 2010. Australia and the US agreed to work together to end violence against women and to promote women’s empowerment through a
Global Women's Empowerment Initiative [external website].
Outcomes statement from the policy dialogue
Pacific countries, regional partners and donors agreed to strengthen their focus to end violence against women in the Pacific, and made specific recommendations to donors, governments, civil society and regional organisations for actions to end violence against women. These recommendations are reflected in an
outcomes statement and will inform AusAID’s support to the region to end violence against women. In particular, AusAID will work with partners to increase the number and reach of services to survivors of violence, evaluate promising programs, improve the responsiveness of programs providing women with access to justice, improve health and education sector responses to violence and continue our support for national research on the prevalence and impact of violence against women.
Opening of the Australia-US Pacific Women's Empowerment Policy Dialogue
Launch of Plan International's 'Because I am a Girl' Report
Richard Marles—Pacific Women's Empowerment Dialogue: Stopping Violence Against Women
US Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich: Remarks at the Pacific Women's Empowerment Policy Dialogue [PDF]
Media Releases [external websites]
Australia helps improve safety and opportunities for women in Vanuatu
Australia and the United States—Committed to stopping violence against women in the Pacific
Australia’s support for research on violence against women
In 2008 the Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE) released a report titled
Violence against Women in Melanesia and East Timor—Building on global and regional promising approaches [external website].
The report helped to build an evidence base for effective ways to combat violence against women and promote gender equality. It proposes an Action Plan for all the countries studied (Timor-Leste, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu).
In 2009 the Australian Government responded to the 2008 Office of Development Effectiveness report and produced
Stop Violence: Responding to Violence Against Women in Melanesia and East Timor.
This report sets out Australia’s priorities and actions to prevent and reduce violence against women in Melanesia and Timor-Leste. It also outlines Australia’s support to increase women’s access to justice and support services.
In February 2012 the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) released a follow up report to the 2008 ODE report titled, Violence against Women in Melanesia and Timor-Leste—Progress made since the 2008 Office of Development Effectiveness report.
Research on the prevalence of violence in communities helps us understand the extent and impacts of the problem. These research documents can be used as a tool to shape polices and legislation and lobby governments so violence against women can be addressed at a national level across the Pacific.
The Governments of Kiribati and Solomon Islands have developed national policies and action plans to address violence against women. These were endorsed after Family Health and Safety studies on the prevalence and impact of violence were completed for Kiribati and Solomon Islands with Australian support and assistance. Vanuatu has recently completed a national study on violence,
The Vanuatu National Survey on Women’s Lives and Family Relationships, which was launched at the Pacific Women’s Empowerment Policy Dialogue: Stopping Violence Against Women in November 2011.