Thousands to attend Parliament House March 4 Justice

March 4 Justice supporters Renee Jones, Blair Williams and Bethany Williams with regional president Amnesty International Kathryn Allan and former Canberra Women in Business president Peta Swarbrick make placards for Monday's march. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
March 4 Justice supporters Renee Jones, Blair Williams and Bethany Williams with regional president Amnesty International Kathryn Allan and former Canberra Women in Business president Peta Swarbrick make placards for Monday's march. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Thousands will descend on Parliament House today, calling for action against gender-based violence, for a march organisers say will mark a turning point.

"Historic change is in the air," March 4 Justice founder Janine Hendry said.

This march will be different, she said, adding that women who had never joined the movement were planning to show up.

"Women who have spent their lives fighting are still here," Ms Hendry said.

"Gendered violence must end. Women must be heard, and victim-survivors must be believed.

"Women must be safe in the workplace, at home, and as they go about their lives."

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend more than 40 marches across the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison won't attend the gathering, which is expected to swell to up to 4000 outside Parliament House, but has invited three to four delegates to meet with him privately on Monday afternoon.

Women's Minister Marise Payne will also snub the march but has offered to meet with delegates.

Co-organiser Kate Walton was disappointed to hear the politician in charge of women's affairs wouldn't attend.

"Her responsibility as a minister to all women across Australia is to protect them ... to uphold our rights," Ms Walton said.

The latest wave of action has been sparked by former Liberal adviser Brittany Higgins alleging she was raped while working in Parliament House in 2019; followed by allegations Attorney-General Christian Porter raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988, which he denies.

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An inquiry examining workplace culture has been launched in the wake of Ms Higgins' allegations, but an investigation into the allegations surrounding Mr Porter has been denied by the federal government.

Protesters are calling for all 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work report into sexual harassment in workplaces to be implemented and for increased funding for gendered violence prevention.

They also want an independent investigation into all cases of gendered violence and a federal Gender Equality Act including an audit of parliamentary practices.

Ms Walton said this was a turning point, but the march was just the next step in a battle waged by women for decades.

"It's disappointing it requires such horrific cases for there to be the beginnings of meaningful action. It shouldn't require cases of [alleged assault] to happen at Parliament House ... to reach this point," she said.

"I would like to see a bit of empathy and compassion from the politicians of Australia.

"Unfortunately, that has not been forthcoming by the majority."

Co-organiser Peta Swarbick said there had been a huge shift in attitude since she last marched for women's rights in Canberra in 2019. About 600 people turned up.

Now, they were expected to turn up in the thousands, flying in from across the country.

"There doesn't seem to be any alternative ... the government [is] ignoring these issues," Ms Swarbick said.

Crowds will begin to gather at 11am before Aunty Violet Sheridan gives a Welcome to Country.

Julia Zemiro will lead speakers including Greens senate candidate Tjanara Goreng Goreng, Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus, youth advocate Saxon Mullins, Biff Ward and Virginia Hausegger.

The march will begin at noon.

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This story 'Historic change in the air': Thousands to call for action on violence against women first appeared on The Canberra Times.