07 Mar, 2014 Last updated: 30 Mar, 2015

By Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter

The theme for this year's International Women's Day 8 March is 'equality for women is progress for all'. But how far have we really come over the past 12 months? In some areas it feels like we're going backwards.

Sadly, recent figures also show Australian women are 2.5 times more likely to experience violence from a partner than men. One woman in three will be assaulted in her lifetime. 

Every week, women lose their lives to violent partners, and in the tragic case of Luke Batty, sometimes children are killed as well. This just underlines the extreme importance of making preventing violence before it happens a matter of national urgency. 

Even though we have all been affected by the tragedies that continue to occur, we have many positive stories to tell about 2013 as well. 

As well as the establishment of the National Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children, we've also seen amazing public support for ending violence against women, particularly from male leaders like Chief Commissioner Ken Lay. 

The public's outpouring of grief following Rosie Batty's heartfelt statement that family violence happens to anyone, shows we are ready for change. We are ready to prevent family violence by building a community where it doesn't happen. 

Later this year, VicHealth will release the most comprehensive research on Australian community attitudes to violence against women and gender inequality ever undertaken. Then we will know just how far we've come and how far we've got to go. 

Until then, we look forward to working with the community to make this year a better year for equality and the health of our sisters, mothers, daughters, colleagues and friends.

- Jerril