Government MP Sarah Henderson has delivered an emotional White Ribbon Day speech to parliament just days after losing a close friend in a domestic violence related murder-suicide.
Australian woman Monique Denahy, a 49-year-old mother of two, was murdered by her partner Daniel Millner in their Florida home over the weekend. It's believed Denahy was planning to leave Millner and return to Australia.
"Tomorrow is White Ribbon Day—a national day of action urging each of us to stand up and speak out against family violence, and specifically violence by men against women and children," Henderson said in parliament on Tuesday evening. "I want to acknowledge from the outset that men are also victims of domestic violence, but the fact remains that the vast majority of victims are women and children."
"In Australia this year, 78 women have been killed at the hands of a current or former partner or family member, on average more than one death a week."
"Since her beloved son, Luke, was killed by his father, our Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, has campaigned tirelessly for change, for more funding, for action, standing up and speaking out against this dreadful evil."
"I still fight back tears when I drive over the West Gate Bridge. How a father could throw his beautiful daughter off the bridge to her death is beyond horror. I feel the same sickness as I drive past the place near Winchelsea, where a father drove his three young boys into a dam, to their death."
Henderson then fought back tears as she revealed her personal connection to Australia's domestic violence crisis.
"She was 49, beautiful, vivacious, gentle and kind. She was always laughing, always positive. She grew up in a beautiful family in Geelong—our families were close—and Monique was and remained a very close friend to my sister Jodie," the Corangamite MP said.
Henderson then issued a call-to-arms for Australia to deal with family violence.
"We all have a responsibility to educate young people—and Our Watch survey found that one in four young men believe controlling and violent behaviour is a sign of male strength," she said.
"I say to all Australians: tomorrow wear your white ribbon, take the pledge and please stand up and speak out against family violence. Monique, you were a beautiful and gentle soul. Rest in peace."
The comments were iterated by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday morning, who said it's up to men to end violence against women.
"The answer lies with us men to make this change. We have to lead by example," he said at a White Ribbon Day event in Canberra.
"If little boys see their fathers disrespecting their mothers, they will grow up to disrespect their partners. If they see their mothers respected they will respect their sisters."
"The critical insight into this is that not all disrespect of women ends up in violence against women but that is where all violence against women begins."
Opposition leader Bill Shorten this morning announced a new Labor policy which will give all Australians five days of leave from work to deal with the effects of domestic or family violence if Labor is elected next year.
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault or domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area, download the Daisy App in the App Store or Google Play.
Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
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