ABOUT 20 people attended a March4Justice “sit in” outside the office of Flinders MP and Health Minister Greg Hunt’s office at Somerville on Monday (15 March).
The group, which also stood, demanded that women be “heard, respected and represented in Canberra” as well as an end to gender-based discrimination and violence in society.
The staging of the sit-in outside Mr Hunt’s office was because “his office is our doorway to Canberra”, Organiser Mieke Suggars said.
Their Somerville rally was run in conjunction with a larger March4Justice at Rosebud in the Treasury Gardens, Melbourne, in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.
Ms Suggars said the Somerville action was in protest at a “culture of cover up” which seeks to dismiss claims by victims of violence while seeming to support their alleged attackers.
“I was disgusted by the Prime Minister [Scott Morrison] who said he took [Attorney-General] Christian Porter at his word but hadn’t even bothered to read the full details of the case made by his accuser,” she said.
Mr Porter has denied a historic rape allegation by a female debating colleague in Sydney while they were teenagers.
“Events or crimes are so often treated as an inconvenience or nuisance by their perpetrators,” Ms Suggars said. “The [Liberal staffer] Brittany Higgins case [who claimed she was raped by a male staffer inside Parliament House] was treated as an election issue instead of a workplace safety issue.”
Ms Suggars said most attacks against women were perpetrated by men they knew and then “the people around them cover it up”.
She scoffed at the PM’s offer to “meet the rally organisers in Canberra ‘behind closed doors’” on Monday: “That’s what it’s all about,” she said. “It’s about an underlying culture of cover-up. It would show he was really listening if he came out onto the Parliament House steps and heard what the people are saying.”
The march’s values are linked to those being explored in Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Gender Equality Strategy and Jesuit Social Services’ Man Box study and the move to “challenge men’s outdated stereotypes”.
The shire has partnered with VicHealth and Family Life to “unpack” the Man Box study, to explore the social pressures on men and boys and to discuss how to improve the health and wellbeing of the community in a free webinar, 6.30-8pm, Wednesday 24 March.
Register for the shire’s webinar at: manbox.eventbrite.com.au