LABOR’S Shadow Minister for Women Tanya Plibersek joined residents at an open forum discussing gender-based issues during the week.
The April 26 event consisted of a panel of women including Corangamite MP Libby Coker, Surf Coast Shire mayor Libby Stapleton, City of Greater Geelong councillor Belinda Maloney and Torquay Football and Netball Club president Jenny Wood.
Up to 100 guests from across the region attended the event held at the Spring Creek Reserve, which discussed the 14 per cent gender pay gap, gender-based violence as well economic and employment issues including 25 per cent of females not having superannuation funds.
Ms Coker, who called the forum, said she had members of the community approaching her about gender-based issues.
“I have had people coming up to me saying what is happening in politics is concerning, we want to see more from our leaders, and I agree,” she said.
Ms Plibersek, who is a member of the federal parliament, said events like this were important to help understand the experience of women all over Australia.
“Sexual assault, domestic violence and gender-based violence exist in every community,” she said.
“I learn something new in every place I go from people in that community and their own induvial solutions for what is working.”
While momentum is building in the community Ms Plibersek said some trends were worsening.
“If women are not safe in parliament it means women aren’t safe anywhere,” she said.
Ms Plibersek told the forum of the high rate of domestic violence which is exceeding resources.
“Emergency accommodation has never been worse,” she said.
“Single women are the fastest growing demographic of homeless people.”
The panel was asked how young women can rely on their community to keep them safe, with Cr Stapleton saying there was no easy solution.
“It is not a quick fix but there are some things already happening in our community including family violence leave and white ribbon accreditation,” she said.
“Bottom line is respect underlies it all, if we can get that right in the community it can change.”
Cr Maloney, who is a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence, told the forum that education and representation were the way forward.
“In our community we need to talk to our brothers or males and be the man who stands up for women even if they are not your daughter, sister or wife just because they’re a woman.”