Australia has a ‘crisis’ of male violence: Dreyfus

Tess Ikonomou |

Questions are being asked about why the killer at Bondi Junction apparently targeted women.
Questions are being asked about why the killer at Bondi Junction apparently targeted women.

Echoing the words of anti-family violence campaigner Rosie Batty, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has called on men in Australia to “step up” and stamp out attacks on women.

In a speech to the Family Violence Symposium held by the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne on Friday, Mr Dreyfus likened the death of more than 25 women this year to an epidemic.

“It is a scourge in our society and it must end,” he said, calling it a “crisis of male violence”.

Mr Dreyfus noted the event was being held against the backdrop of “shocking acts of violence against women” just days after five women were stabbed to death at a Bondi shopping centre, and several women were killed in Ballarat in two months.

A man grieves the six people killed at Bondi Junction
Mark Dreyfus says the nation has to confront the scourge of male violence against women. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

“It’s time for men to step up,” he said.

“It’s our responsibility to educate ourselves, our sons, our colleagues and our friends.”

More than 25 women have been killed in Australia so far this year.

Hosting the symposium, Chief Justice of the Federal Circuit and Family Court William Alstergren said the violence was a “national disgrace”.

“Recent events tell us that it’s getting worse, not better and it’s simply unacceptable,” he told ABC Radio.

“It’s sickening to say this, and no society with our benefits and democracy should ever put up with this kind of behaviour.”

Chief Judge Alstergren said the solution to ending violence against women should include everyone in society particularly men, who needed to take a leadership role.

Sydney’s Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre reopened on Friday almost a week after 40-year-old Joel Cauchi killed six people – five of them women – in a mass stabbing.

Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus
Mark Dreyfus has called on the nation’s men to step up to prevent violence against women. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

There have been calls for the attack to be designated an act of terrorism if authorities find an ideology of hate for women drove it.

Asked if killing women could be made a terrorism offence, Mr Dreyfus did not conflate the two definitions.  

“I think we can talk about violence against women without blurring lines into something else,” he told ABC Radio.

Asked if Cauchi might have been motivated by the anti-women incel (involuntary celibate) ideology, Mr Dreyfus said it was not appropriate to comment with an investigation ongoing. 

Mr Dreyfus also defended the decision by police and ASIO to label the stabbing of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel during a service at a church in Sydney’s southwest a terrorist act.

“This was a very distressing attack … there is a very clear framework here,” he said.

“The director-general of ASIO Mike Burgess has said that designation of a terrorism incident is one that’s driven by ideology, whether that be religious or political motivation.”