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RESPECT for Women seminar

Thursday 9 September 2004

Statement from Amnesty International (SA/NT) on the 'Stop Violence Against Women' Campaign

Delivered by Ms Vicki Jacobs, Amnesty International SA/NT Branch President

Distinguished women, fellow activists. I just want to start by acknowledging the Kaurna people, the ancestral owners of the land upon which we are meeting. I am feeling very privileged in being here for a number of reasons. Firstly, sharing this stage with some wonderful women talking on a huge range of issues facing women in the community. Having Amnesty International Australia represented in a forum like this is just a fantastic thing to have happen.

I am also feeling very privileged, because Irene Kahn was in Australia and I was at the Hawke lecture last evening, which was very uplifting. I think those in the audience who were at the lecture will also attest to that. It was really heartening to feel the nod of the audience behind you, because I was sitting up the front, when Irene was talking and raising issues in relation to human rights, the global human rights issues, and having the audience actually agree with that. It was just such a good feeling, because often this does not occur.

The other thing that Amnesty has done in the last week is hold its first human rights conference, and that was over the weekend up in Brisbane. The conference had a focus on the Asia-Pacific region and we had numbers of delegates from nations in the Pacific area.

In being at that conference for the two days, one of the things that really hit me is how there is still a lot of violence in those communities perpetrated against women. The issues that are confronting women in those communities are enormous. It wasn't unlike what we were feeling about 30 years ago here in Australia.

The other thing that struck me is how far we have actually moved in Australia, and I think we need to acknowledge that as a community, but not to the point where we actually discard what is still currently happening in the area of violence against women in our country. Irene has talked about that, both in her presentation this morning and last evening at the Hawke lecture.

I really want to use the last couple of minutes, because I know time is short, to just give an unabashed advertisement for Amnesty International and what we are doing, particularly in relation to "Stop Violence Against Women." You will find we have a table out there in the foyer with some documentation on it. We have information that we have developed in Amnesty International Australia on our campaign on "Stop Violence Against Women."

This information covers the reason behind this campaign. I just want to also say that it is a campaign that Amnesty International does not normally take on for numbers of reasons. This campaign is not as specific as our normal campaigns that we would regularly do, where we are supporting a prisoner in conscience or fighting extrajudicial executions, fighting against the death penalty. This is quite conceptually different for us and rather a challenge.

It is also a challenge for us in Australia, because we can work in our own countries. So not only are we looking at violence against women in conflict and post-conflict situations; we are looking at violence against women in Australia with one of the main focus points being the Australian Government's obligations in the areas of due diligence. We are focusing on violence in indigenous communities and more generally on community education.

So we are seeking support from as many people as possible within Australia to help us with that campaign. It is a 6-year campaign. So Amnesty International is truly committed to stopping violence against women not only in our own communities, but on the international stage.

So thank you.

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