The Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee has today tabled its report into domestic violence in Australia following a year-long inquiry containing 25 recommendations for ways to address the national emergency of domestic violence in this country.
Chair of the Committee Senator Katy Gallagher acknowledged there have been efforts made to address the prevalence and effect of domestic violence from successive governments but further efforts, resources and leadership from the Commonwealth Government are required over the long term if we are to see any lasting change in this area.
It is important that today we acknowledge the generations of women and children who have suffered from family and domestic violence. It is also important to acknowledge the witnesses who gave evidence at hearings and the many others who made submissions to make this inquiry possible.
There is not one single solution that will stop domestic violence overnight, rather it is a complex problem that requires a long term strategic approach by all levels of government and the Australian community.
Data provided to the committee indicate that one in five Australian women have experienced violence at the hands of a partner and that women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, women with disabilities and women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities are particularly vulnerable to domestic and family violence.
The most tragic point of the epidemic of violence against women is found in the Australian Government statistics which showed that 89 women were killed in Australia between 2008-10 as a result of domestic violence which equates to almost one person killed each week.
It is these unacceptable rates of family and domestic violence which makes this one of the most important issues facing Australia today and addressing it requires leadership from the Commonwealth Government.
The recommendations made in the report focuses on providing support for victims, improving inter-government and cross sector co-ordination of policy and priorities, data collection, primary prevention programs, crisis intervention services, housing services, access to legal services and addressing alcohol as an exacerbating factor in domestic violence incidences.
Key recommendations include:
- A call on the Prime Minister to make an annual report to Parliament on progress in the effort to eliminate domestic violence;
- Supporting victims of domestic violence to have access to appropriate leave entitlements and employer support to assist with legal and court appearances;
- To improve data recording about incidents of domestic violence including on culturally and linguistically diverse groups and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians;
- The need to provide appropriate services to male victims of domestic and family violence.
- The need for the Commonwealth Government to play a lead role in co-ordination of programs and policies and ensure that support services have access to secure funding.
- The need to evaluate programs that facilitate the removal of perpetrators of domestic violence from the family home so that victims have the option to remain safely at home.
- The need for the Commonwealth to take a lead role in the provision of affordable housing solutions to address the existing and future needs of victims escaping violent homes.
- The creation of a first ministers subcommittee of COAG to share results of trials and to coordinate the development of best practice policy and service responses to domestic violence and to ensure that a long term focus is made from all government leaders across the country.
In March, Labor made specific commitments to address domestic and family violence including holding a national crisis summit on family violence if elected, within the first 100 days of office.
A national crisis summit is required for the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to agree to urgently implement reform within their areas of responsibility to better deal with family violence and provide a forum for stakeholders, victims and families to open and transparently lay down the key policy challenges for addressing family violence including demand, innovation and coordination of services.
A package of $70 million in interim funding has also been committed to help people experiencing family violence get the legal services they need, stay safe in their own homes and better understand perpetrator activity.
These commitments build on the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children Labor established in 2010, as the first long-term national strategy to address family violence.
THURSDAY, 20 AUGUST 2015