Michael O’Connell

Question: How can we change social norms to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG)?

“We have to start with the family, through school, through places of employment. It is not a change that will happen in just one place. We have to collectively work together.”

Question: Could you share with us a success story on social norm change that has contributed to end VAWG?

“In South Australia, I have worked with a girls’ school and then collaborated with a boys’ school to collect mobile telephones that were unused and those telephones then were distributed through my office to the police to give to women and young girls who are at risk, so they could seek help when they needed help. The programme was linked to an ending violence strategy at the school and an educational programme to build respectful relationships that began in pre-school and ended in year 12.”

Question: What would you suggest to policy-makers to advance ending VAWG?

“Policymakers, in particular political leaders, need to demonstrate leadership. Leadership does not require just managing a problem or managing the budget or the finances of a state. It actually requires strong moral courage, a willingness to stand up and say what you truly believe and to help show that transformational change is important for all of us – not just women and girls – if you want to live in a harmonious, just, fair and equitable society.”

Question: Could you give me a call for action?

“I call on all the leaders of the world, whether they are in government, in business, in NGO sectors, male or female, not to look at the problem of violence against women in a conflict manner, but rather in a manner in which we can partner one another for solutions. We can ensure that the future for our children and their children is going to be one that is better. The legacy that we leave them must be something better than we have today.”

 

About the expert

Michael O’Connell
Position: Commissioner for Victims’ Rights
Michael O’Connell APM | Commissioner for Victims’ Rights
Level 4, 45 Pirie Street, Adelaide  SA  5000
GPO Box 464 Adelaide  SA  5001
 Telephone: +61.8.82049635
Email: victimsofcrime@sa.gov.au
Web: www.voc.sa.gov.au