Thousands gather at the March4Justice demonstration in Melbourne on Monday.

Thousands gather at the March4Justice demonstration in Melbourne on Monday. Source: AAP

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Politics

Thousands of women march across Australia demanding an end to violence and inequality

Huge demonstrations are taking place across Australia as part of the women's March4Justice. Catch all the action here on the SBS News live blog.

Thousands gather at the March4Justice demonstration in Melbourne on Monday. Source: AAP

Published , updated 15 March 2021, 5:37 pm
By SBS
15 March 2021, 5:37 pm

That's it from the SBS News blog

Thanks for joining us - that's it from the SBS News blog. 

To recap the day's events, we've seen thousands join women's marches across the country to bring attention to concerns over gendered violence and misogyny in Australia. 

The March4Justice was timed for the return of Parliament in Canberra, and provoked by recent sexual assault allegations that continue to loom over the government.

The calls for change from those attending the rallies reverberating around the country. 

Earlier, former political staffer and sexual assault survivor Brittany Higgins delivered an emotional speech calling for politicians of all stripes to take action on sexual harassment and abuse. 

Australian of the Year Grace Tame was another to speak out on the need for change.

You can read more about those speeches here:

Also, make sure to tune into SBS News website for all the latest updates. 

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15 March 2021, 5:07 pm

Female MPs demand change to treatment of women

Female politicians from across the political aisle attended the women's march outside Parliament.

Here's what some of them had to say about why they wanted to be at the event:

Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson:

"The safety of women in every workplace around Australia matters - including in Parliament House - this is a very important cause."

Labor MP Tanya Plibersek:

"Today women are saying enough is enough - this is a time that demands legislative reform - it's a time that demands culture change."

Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe:

"We have had enough - we all feel that injustice that is going on in this country against women, particularly First Nations women."

Greens Senator Larissa Waters:

"We won't give up this fight is far from over - we are just getting started - we need to end violence against women and their children - we need to end gender inequality - we need to stop the sexual harassment and assault."

Independent MP Helen Haines:

"We need women in leadership to stand up to come forward and stand in solidarity."

15 March 2021, 4:35 pm

Lauren Woodbridge speaks of 'concern' for daughter's safety

Lauren Woodbridge attended the women's march outside Parliament with her young daughter.

She said the ongoing concerns around gendered violence in Australia remained one of her deepest concerns for her daughter's future. 

"It's kind of sad that my greatest concern doesn’t have to be she will do well in life, it's will she be personally attacked," she told SBS News.

She also described the spotlight placed on recent sexual assault allegations inside Parliament as "beyond disgusting".

"It's beyond disgusting, how is this even possible in such a supposedly balanced western civilisation." 

Source: Ben Patrick, SBS News

15 March 2021, 4:22 pm

'We have to be heard and this is an opportunity to do this'

Carol Cooke told SBS News her decision to attend the women's march in Canberra was about ensuring that women's voices are heard.

Ms Cooke said she's be "disappointed" by the government's recent handling of sexual assault allegations, including Mr Morrison's decision not to attend the rally.

"If we don't stand up for something like this - we have to be heard and this is an opportunity to do this," she said.

Source: Ben Patrick SBS News

15 March 2021, 3:43 pm

'I am sick of being frightened when we walk alone at night'

Eliza Coombes earlier attended the women's march in Hobart venting her frustration about the failure to protect women against gendered violence and sexual assault. 

"I am sick of myself and my friends being frightened when we walk alone at night," she told SBS News. 

"I am sick of having a government that clearly doesn’t care about women, as much as they do men.

"I am sick of having politicians accused of foul acts and never seeing any real consequences."

Source: Sarah Maunder, SBS News

15 March 2021, 3:18 pm

Scott Morrison questioned on calls for independent inquiry into Christian Porter

Mr Morrison has also been asked about ongoing calls to launch a independent inquiry into a historical rape allegation made against Attorney-General Christian Porter, which he vehemently denies. 

Tanya Plibersek: "Why won't the Prime Minister establish an independent inquiry into the sexual assault allegations against his Attorney-General?"

Mr Morrison: 

"There was one rule of law for every single Australian in this country. Those opposite may jeer about that. They may heckle about that. This is a fundamental principal that every single Australian faces the same law as any other Australian, Mr Speaker. 

"Attorney-General, Mr Speaker, has announced that in private capacity he is perusing a defamation action against those who have raised those issues. That matter will be considered where it should, in a court of law. The arguments we made, the evidence will be presented. And that matter can be rightly addressed through our courts where it should be and that's the approach which I think best addresses the matter."

15 March 2021, 3:12 pm

Zali Steggall: 'to quote Brittany Higgins - the system is broken'

Independent MP Zali Steggall to Scott Morrison: 

"To quote Brittany Higgins, the system is broken. In your own words just now you want to see people safe. You have the power being in government today make all Australians, especially members of parliament, liable for and protected from sexual harassment in the workplace by supporting the sex discrimination amendment bill introduced to the parliament this morning. Will you do so? If your answer is we're working on it, that is not good enough?"

Mr Morrison:

"The Government is committed to ensuring Australia's legal frameworks are effective in preventing and responding to sexual harassment. The question of how best to address sexual assault which is the subject of your bill should be informed by the findings of the inquiries into sexual assault allegations that have been announced."

15 March 2021, 3:08 pm

Scott Morrison responds to Brittany Higgins claim his media team 'discredited' her loved ones

Labor's Catherine King has asked Scott Morrison about claims his media team acted to 'undermine' and 'discredit' Brittany Higgins "loved ones".

"Today Brittany Higgins said, “I watched as the Prime Minister of Australia publicly apologised to me through the media, while privately his media team effectively undermined and discredited my loved ones.”

Mr Morrison said he had "no knowledge" and "would never instruct" that type of behaviour.

"Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have no knowledge of that and would never instruct that, Mr Speaker. I would never instruct such a thing, Mr Speaker. I would never do that, Mr Speaker. The apology offered to Brittany Higgins in this place was sincere and was genuine and I'm happy to restate it."

15 March 2021, 3:00 pm

Scott Morrison questioned on 'lying cow' slur against Brittany Higgins

Scott Morrison has now been asked how he could maintain confidence in Defence Minister Linda Reynolds after she called Brittany Higgins ‘a lying cow’.

Senator Reynolds - who is now on leave - has since apologised to the former political staffer for the offensive remark made in her office.

In his response, Mr Morrison called the statement a "disgraceful slur"

"Thank you Mr Speaker. I’m pleased that the matter that she has referred to, the disgraceful slur on Brittany Higgins, Mr Speaker, as I called it at the time, that has been apologised for, that it has been withdrawn, and there’s been a formal settlement I understand between the parties. Of course she should never have said it and I challenge anyone in this place, I challenge anyone in this place and those who are putting these matters forward here in this place...

Mr Speaker. But I would simply say this - this was a statement that should never have been uttered, whether in a private office or elsewhere. And I’m pleased the Minister saw to it that that statement was unconditionally withdrawn, Mr Speaker. Unconditionally withdrawn. Apologised for. And that apology has been accepted."

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