I rise today to pay my respects to Eurydice Dixon and to express my condolences to her family, friends and colleagues. I also grieve for all 31 Australian women who this year alone have tragically had their lives cut short at the hands of violent men. These women could be our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our nieces — their tragedy touches us all. Last night I too stood at Princes Park, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of women and men both young and old, to remember the life of Eurydice Dixon. Together we stood to remember, reflect and, I believe, silently and powerfully say: enough is enough.
I confess I have shed a lot of tears for this young woman who devoted her short life to making people happy. I have felt both outrage and sorrow. I have also been reflecting on the public discussion about women’s safety and about how for too long the onus for our safety has been put on women. As a young student walking the streets around Melbourne University for six years, I walked from a dark closed library through a badly lit campus to a Carlton bus stop with my heart in my mouth and holding my keys in my hand as a potential weapon. As a young woman my friends and I took turns to guard our drinks so that they were not spiked. It is time that women shared these stories to help men understand what girls and women experience every day.
Most of the violence still remains hidden in the home, unspoken, with so many women and children suffering in silence at the hands of perpetrators who profess to love them. When women are killed or sexually assaulted, their perpetrators are overwhelmingly men. Most men respect women but too many do not, and this has to change. Cultural change takes time, but it must start now. We need boys and young men to learn to respect girls and women at kindergarten, at school and in the home. For Eurydice and for every other woman who has tragically died, we must keep working towards a society that respects women. Rest in peace, Eurydice. You will not be forgotten.