Photo: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Tanya Plibersek has urged assault survivors to ask for help after her daughter revealed her own history of sexual and domestic violence.
In an excerpt from Margaret Simons’ book Tanya Plibersek: On Her Own Terms, published in Good Weekend magazine on Saturday, the former Labor Party deputy leader revealed part of the reason she did not run for party leader in 2019 , her daughter was involved in legal proceedings related to the abuse at the time and would appear as a witness in court.
“And the thought of not being able to be there for them was simply too much,” Plibersek, today’s Environment Minister, is quoted as saying.
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Plibersek tweeted on Saturday morning that she and her husband Michael Coutts-Trotter were “devastated” to find out what happened to their daughter and urged other survivors to seek help.
“She decided to share her story because it could help someone else. I’m so proud of her,” Plibersek wrote.
“Anna is sharing her story today because she and some friends have since started a volunteer-run peer support organization called The Survivor Hub to try and help other people going through what they experienced.”
Statistics show that this type of violence is far too common in Australia, with one in five women experiencing sexual violence since the age of 15, she said.
“These statistics are just devastating. This is an opportunity for people to reach out and get help from The Survivor Hub and of course 1800RESPECT. There is help out there.
“We hope this story will make someone else’s journey a little easier.”
After Labor’s election defeat in 2019, Plibersek withdrew from the leadership contest, citing family commitments.
In the excerpt from the book, she said the impending lawsuit was a major reason for her resignation.
“I couldn’t imagine saying, ‘Sorry, I can’t be with you today. I have to fly somewhere for a conference,” she said.
When asked if she could have taken the lead from Anthony Albanese back then, Plibersek said “we’ll never know” but was confident “I would have won if I had run”.
When asked at a news conference in Melbourne on Saturday, Albanese did not directly respond to the allegation, other than to say: “Tanya Plibersek is doing a great job as Minister for the Environment. She’s been a friend of mine for a very long time.
“I was unopposed after the 2019 election; I won in 2022 and I’m very proud of the great team I have.”
Plibersek said while she knows abuse can happen to anyone, “it doesn’t alleviate the guilt of not protecting her daughter.”
In the book excerpt, Anna spoke about trying to help other sexual assault survivors through her nonprofit organization.
“That’s what I’m doing with what happened to me. I’m trying to use it,” she told Simons.
• In Australia, call the National Domestic Violence Advice Service on 1800 737 732. In the UK, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline on 0808 2000 247 or visit Women’s Aid. In the US, the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can find more international helplines at www.befrienders.org