"We do not accept the abuse, control and murder of women. It's as simple as that."

Kate Fitz-Gibbon's address to the 2023 Walk Against Family Violence.

Thank you Tasneem and thank you to all our speakers.

Thank you Aunty Joy for welcoming us onto your Country. It is a privilege to gather on the lands of the Wurundjeri people, and I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.

The Counting Dead Women project lists at least 53 women killed in Australia this year, the majority by male violence. We are here today because we do not accept the deaths of these 53 women.

We do not accept the violence that robbed them of the dreams and ambitions that lay ahead of them, and their friends and families.

When we talk about preventing family violence and violence against women, what we mean is that we don’t accept this violence as inevitable.

We do not accept the conditioning of girls to swallow their opinions, and boys their vulnerability.

We do not accept a culture that tells young women they exist for others’ pleasure and young men they are entitled to sex.

We do not accept that our gender comes with rules about what we should look like, how we should dress, what we should be interested in and who we should love.

We do not accept that right now in Australia, your gender will most likely dictate the kinds of jobs you can have, and how much or little you’ll be paid. Who will carry the parenting load and do most of the housework. Whose role it is to earn money and decide how it’s spent. Who will retire with super and who will be left in poverty.

We do not accept that women with disabilities are sidelined in decisions about their bodies and lives, that a woman’s immigration status can be used to control her, or the ongoing removal of Aboriginal children from their mothers and families.

We do not accept love bombing, gaslighting, isolating or stalking someone as ‘normal’ parts of a relationship, that violence is an acceptable reaction to day-to-day stress, or that someone who stays with a violent partner is responsible for their abuse.

We do not accept media headlines that portray perpetrators as “respected leaders” while speculating on their victims’ mental health, what they were wearing or drinking.

We do not accept the abuse, subjugation, control and murder of women. It’s as simple as that.

Today we’re all here to say that there is nothing inevitable about violence against women and family violence. This violence is preventable.

You’re here because you don’t accept it or any of the attitudes and behaviours that drive it.

So what can you do to prevent violence against women and family violence?

Let your daughter be assertive and your son cry. Let young people express and affirm their gender. Teach them about enthusiastic consent and role model respectful relationships.

Carry your fair share of the load in parenting and domestic relationships. Share decisions about your household and finances.

If someone you know thinks homophobic jokes are harmless and gender equality has gone “too far” – talk to them. Role model healthy masculinity.

If you’re an employer – confront pay discrimination in your workplace. Have parental leave and flexible work policies that support all parents and carers. Encourage women in all their diversity into leadership.

If you’re someone who makes decisions in your organisation, your club, or your company – embed prevention in your policies, strategies and budgets. Make your spaces inclusive. Listen to and elevate the voices of women facing injustice and discrimination.

If you are someone who influences what we read, watch and listen to – hold perpetrators to account in your reporting. Create realistic and respectful portrayals of women and girls. Give them a platform.

If you’re a decision maker in government – make prevention a priority. Sustain and grow all parts of the family violence and violence against women system, from prevention through to response and recovery.

Embed prevention and gender equality in your policies and budgets. Invest in respectful relationships education and affordable childcare. Reform the institutions that victimise and gaslight women and victim-survivors. Defend the right to affordable housing.

Promote culturally safe sexual and reproductive health education and access to gender-affirming care. Protect the right to choose.

Call out anti-trans rhetoric and stand up against the politics of hate and division.

Stay on the path to Treaty and listen to the voices of Aboriginal women and communities – they hold the solutions.

In the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children, victim survivors told us: “It is time to transform our pain into action… It is time to be brave.”

Thank you for being brave. Today and every day, we walk with you to end this violence.

Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon is the Chair of Respect Victoria. She gave this address to the 5000 Victorians who gathered in solidarity at the 2023 Walk Against Family Violence