Malcolm Turnbull’s commitment to tackling family violence will send a powerful message to the community that Australians reject violence against women and children and are committed to ending this scourge, which every week brings more dead women and children, more shattered lives, more dislocation and misery.

In launching the Coalition government’s $100 million Women’s Safety Package alongside Minister for Women Michaelia Cash this morning, Turnbull gave a strongly worded and at times confronting speech about respect for women.

“All violence against women begins with disrespecting women,” he said. “We as leaders, as a government must make it … a clear national objective of ours to ensure that Australia is more respecting of women.”

Domestic violence, Turnbull says, is a “national disgrace” — and he’s right. His desire to lead a cultural shift so that Australia becomes a place known for its respect for women is a laudable (and sadly long-term) ambition.

The PM was careful not to alienate men in his speech, but he did deliberately (and correctly) frame domestic violence as a gendered issue. And both Turnbull and Cash rightly spoke about domestic violence as an issue of power.

It’s unsettling — most especially for women — to be reminded that a significant part of the population needs to be told to respect women. “There is a lot of unthinking disrespect for women,” the PM observed.

But only good can come from decisive leadership on this issue, and Turnbull’s strong statements — as well as this significant funding increase to tackle the problem — is welcome.

Peter Fray

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