House debates

Monday, 21 June 2021


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022; Consideration in Detail

12:47 pm

Photo of Melissa McIntoshMelissa McIntosh (Lindsay, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Everyone deserves to be safe—safe in their homes, their schools, their workplaces and their communities. But, sadly, we know this isn't always the case. This is particularly important for people in my electorate of Lindsay, an area that experiences higher rates of domestic violence than the New South Wales state average. Between April 2020 and March this year, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research measured domestic violence assaults in Penrith at nearly 614 per 100,000 population. This is significantly higher than the New South Wales state average over the same period, 395.

I'm working closely with Penrith Women's Health Centre to ensure we have the services in our community for women and their families when they need them most. We really must continue to support these on-the-ground services, who work incredibly hard to support women and children in our community. That's why I delivered funding for two specialist domestic violence case workers at Penrith Women's Health Centre. In speaking with the staff at the centre and the women they support, I have seen firsthand the difference this has made, increasing the availability and accessibility of services. When I have written and spoken to women in my community about this issue, so many have shared their own personal experiences and stories, including very distressing and devastating stories. It shows how important this work is and how much we must support it to continue, particularly in a community like mine, where the rates of domestic violence are significantly higher than average. Our local police know how important this issue is, and we're working together on how we can tackle some of these critical issues.

The Morrison government also takes the safety of Australian women and families incredibly seriously. Our $1 billion Women's Safety Package is contributing to the target of ending violence against women and children. This is an historic, record investment in the safety of women across Australia, and as part of this package we're investing $600 million in this year's budget across 16 new women's safety measures. Among the initiatives is a new two-year funding agreement where the Morrison government will commit $260 million to partner with states and territories to boost local frontline services and trial new initiatives in the transition to the next National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. The funding is on top of the $130 million provided to states during the COVID-19 pandemic and the $340 million under the fourth action plan as well as the investment from state governments. This combined effort acknowledges the work of frontline services in tackling domestic violence and allows us to trial innovative initiatives and focus on prevention, early intervention and perpetrator responses. Our women's safety package also provides support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. We have over 6,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in my electorate of Lindsay, so I'm particularly passionate about ensuring that they've got the best support possible.

Preventing and responding to violence against women and children is a shared responsibility of all governments—of everyone in society, actually—and it's why we're working with the states to provide this historic level of funding. We recognise that the impacts of the pandemic on women's safety and that there continues to be demand for support from frontline family, domestic and sexual violence services, just like at Penrith Women's Health Centre, and we're committed to removing the barriers and streamlining support for people escaping domestic violence.

Another program, Stop it at the Start, aims to break the cycle of violence by encouraging adults to reflect on their own attitudes and have conversations about respect with young people aged 10 to 17 years. This message needs to get through every sector of society. Violence against women is not acceptable under any circumstances. I'll continue to work closely with my local organisations in Lindsay and to support them where I can.

Along with the measures I've just highlighted, could the minister advise what further programs the Morrison government is committing to in the 2021-22 budget to secure women's safety—particularly those programs helping women leave violent situations?


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