• Kristin Perissinotto

Women's Safety Summit just tokenism and platitudes

The Women's Safety Summit should have been focussed on real and transformative change. But really, it was a poorly organised and barely thought through attempt at saving face by the Morrison government. The Prime Minister thinks he can placate women with a tokenistic webinar where participants aren't given the chance to speak and a prominent workshop was led by Kochie. But he's wrong. We won't stand for it, and we sure as hell won't forget. And we won't vote the Liberal government in at the next election.

The Summit should have been a platform to hear women tell their own stories, share their own experiences. But instead the opening address was given by the Prime Minister who has defended multiple men in Cabinet accused of sexual violence and harassment.

The Prime Ministers opening address for the Summit should have laid out a precedent for listening and active change, but instead he publicised letters that survivors had sent him, outlining their experiences of violence.

News coverage after the Summit should have focussed on items like Indigenous leader Professor Marcia Langton's address on violence-mitigating initiatives informed by and for First Nations women, but instead all we're reading are articles like this one.

The Summit should have been a place for experts and survivors of domestic and family violence to come together to create strategies to improve women's safety. In reality, it was an exclusionary, secretive, and inaccessible event.

The Summit should have included an opportunity to listen to prominent survivors of domestic and family violence, but instead two speaking spots were given to Scott Morrison and Kochie from Sunrise.

The Prime Minister said his colleagues entered the Summit with “open ears and open hearts,” but his government refused to implement 49 of the 55 recommendations from the Respect@Work report prepared by women and experts.

The Summit could have been the start of true change in the Liberal Party following Brittany Higgins' allegations, but Higgins wasn't even formally invited. She attended as a delegate of the ACT Victims of Crime Commission, who arranged for her to be there.

The Summit could have genuinely questioned the societal imbalance between genders, but instead it featured the Prime Minister saying “we have to talk about the way some men think they own women," when he himself uses his wife and daughters to punctuate his political stunts.

The government could have passed legislation last week that banned sexual harassment in the workplace, meaning it was an employer's responsibility to stop it from happening. Instead, they planned an online event that has participants not able to contribute.

The Summit should have been a prime opportunity for the federal government to reconsider the safety in parliament as a workplace and legislative change to protect Australian women. Instead, it gave Scott Morrison the opportunity to talk as though it's other men that need to change. But we have been abundantly clear: it's him who needs to change.