Amnesty International has released a report that could provide a blueprint for an Australian National Plan of Action to eliminate violence against women. Drawing on international experience, the report frames a good practice human rights approach to the national plan.

The Federal Government has announced that Australia will join a growing number of countries including Denmark, Germany, Equador, Guyana, New Zealand who have made efforts to honour their human rights obligation and produced a national plan to address violence against women. Genuine progress to reduce violence, protect womens rights and provide justice and redress to women could be made if the plan follows the principles set out in this report.

Amnesty International’s report draws on the findings of the United Nations, other international organisations as well as the experience of other countries to establish human rights principles and practices for a national plan. The research indicates that the plan will be most effective if care is taken in the formation of the plan as well as the content.

In formation the plan needs to:

  • Take a Structural approach. The plan needs to be 'all of government', harmonising the efforts of government agencies in all jurisdictions. The plan also needs to take a 'socio-structural' approach to violence against womenby recognising and addressing sexist traditions that uphold discrimination, inequality and violence.
  • Be Strategic. It needs to include targets and timeframes and evaluation.
  • Be well Sustained. Substantial and ongoing funding is required to ensure this plan makes a difference to women's and children's lives.

Download the report: Setting the Standard (PDF size = 2.5MB)

The plan should cover:

  • Prevention - long term awareness raising and education is requried to stop violence against women occuring. We need to change attitudes and can only do that with a sustained campaign as has been done with other public health problems.
  • Provision of services - Services must be available, properly resourced, coordinated and address all the life needs of survivors.
  • Prosectution - Women and children need to have confidence in the justice system. Violence against women must be treated as seriously as other violent crimes.

Amnesty International held workshops on the research in attempt to provide assistance to those making submissions to inform the plan.

The Government invited public submissions to inform the process of developing the plan. 352 submissions were received.

In May 2008 the Government established the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. This Council was tasked with providing expert advice to Government on measures to reduce the incidence and impact of domestic and family violence and sexual assault on women and their children, delivering a draft National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children and providing leadership and guidance to ensure implementation.

More recently the National Plan of Action to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children is about to go before the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) for final approval and is expected to be released to the public in May 2010.

We wait to see what the plan has to offer.