'I don't want to be your friend': how we can stop domestic violence

Anna Bligh has a challenge for Australian men: if you think your mates might be hitting their wives or girlfriends, tell them: ''I don't want to be your friend if you're doing this kind of stuff.''

The former Queensland premier - who worked in a women's refuge with victims of domestic violence before she entered politics - said huge strides have been made in the past three decades in dealing with domestic violence, but more needed to be done to consign it to history.

Now the nation should aspire to eradicating domestic violence in two generations.

''I don't think we're going to see an end to domestic violence until we see both men and women in the community make it absolutely clear that it's unacceptable,'' Ms Bligh said.

''We do need a strong police response, we do need education in our schools, we do need safe and secure places for women and children who are experiencing it. But we need men to say to their mates 'I don't want to be your friend if you're doing this kind of stuff.' It really has to become unacceptable behaviour.

''I'd like to think we can aspire to make domestic violence ancient history within two generations and that's what we should aim for.''

Ms Bligh has lent her her support to Fairfax's ''Shine a Light'' campaign on domestic violence, launched in March.

Crime figures released last week showed domestic violence in NSW reached a 15-year peak in December - 94 domestic violence assaults were reported to police each day.

Ms Bligh has launched back into a career in the non-profit sector following her election loss in Queensland in 2012 and a battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Now living in Sydney, Ms Bligh is chief executive officer of the Young Women's Christian Association in NSW, which runs several domestic-violence support services.

''I'm loving being healthy again and I'm loving being at the YWCA,'' she said. ''It's a great gift to be able to take on a new challenge in your life at this point and I'm very grateful for that gift.''

smh.com.au

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