House debates

Monday, 8 February 2016

Private Members' Business

Domestic and Family Violence

11:02 am

Photo of Bruce BillsonBruce Billson (Dunkley, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) recognises the importance of changing the national culture to make disrespecting women un Australian;

(2) welcomes the Government's $100 million Women's Safety Package to combat domestic violence;

(3) supports efforts at the upcoming COAG meeting to engage all levels of government and the broader community on this shared national endeavour;

(4) places on record its deep concern about the use of new technology and in particular smart phone tracking applications by family violence perpetrators to obtain and monitor the location of their victims; and

(5) calls on all governments to consider this as part of their strategy to combat domestic violence and technology facilitated abuse.

This motion aims to highlight a number of things: the importance of respect for women, government efforts to tackle domestic violence, the impact of new technology as a new avenue for perpetrators to exert power over their victims, and how a comprehensive and contemporary strategy to combat domestic violence needs to include measures to tackle technology facilitated abuse. It addresses the sad reality that domestic violence and feeling terror in your own home, your own sanctuary, is still an all too frequent part of too many women's lives, and how technology brings another tool, another threat, another source of power perpetrators can exercise over their victims. Domestic violence campaigner and former Victorian police commissioner, Ken Lay, made the point that domestic violence breeds from a lack of respect for women and the exercise of power over women and their dependants.

Technology is very powerful, and of great concern is that this power is being deployed as part of the power being brought to bear by perpetrators. The vehicle of this new form of power is this—these smartphones. They are great tools for busy people and are near essential in modern life, but they can also be a mechanism perpetrators use to exercise power over their victims. Tracking technologies can be installed and activated by perpetrators without the knowledge of their victims and give perpetrators the power to be able to follow the movements of their victim, who is simply going about their daily life.

Apprehended violence orders can and have traditionally sought to maintain physical and communication separation between applicants and respondents, but what about the secretly installed app or the activated hidden feature on a smartphone which can tell the perpetrator or the AVO respondent every detail about the victim or applicant's movements?

One of the major issues we now face in the modern age is tracking, which can lead to stalking, cyberstalking—an issue that is becoming more prevalent in our community. Every person has a right to feel safe and secure in his or her home, and everyone should feel safe out in their community—particularly, and I very much emphasise this, where courts have had to intervene and find additional protections in the form of AVOs or sentencing are necessary for victims or people at risk to enjoy this basic right.

Concerns have been raised with me by the Peninsula Community Legal Centre CEO, Jackie Galloway, that current AVOs fail to address the activation by respondents of hidden location tracking technology on applicants' smartphones without their applicants' knowledge. This exercise of control and movement-monitoring power is precisely what Ken Lay was referring to when he said that in the event of domestic and family violence, 'there might not be punches, but there is always the exercise of power by the perpetrators'. The key issues raised by the Peninsula Community Legal Centre, when it comes to domestic violence specifically in my electorate, is the number of cases they are having to contend with—one in four of the cases that are before the Peninsula Community Legal Centre, or some 2,000 cases a year, involve domestic violence. There is an increase in the use of technology tracking devices and other technologies, but it is proving to be very difficult to prove that the tracking has been occurring when fighting a domestic violence case. Social media is now a major aspect in family violence, with tracking apps able to see everywhere at any time where the victim is at a specific part of their day. Unfortunately, legislation is not keeping up with technology updates. While some of this technology is designed for good purposes—for example, apps developed to keep an eye on where your children are going—it is also being used in a malicious manner.

New training is now available to help people understand these threats, but the law needs to keep pace with the changes in technology. Control and power are big factors in family violence. The coalition government, to its credit, is implementing the largest package of measures to tackle this scourge in our community. It is not okay to physically or emotionally abuse your partner or family in any shape or form. In 2015-16, the government is providing over half a billion dollars to frontline services and other support efforts, particularly to assist vulnerable Australians—very much so women having to live with domestic violence. It does not need to be like this. We need to get across the impact of technology. Good work is being done in the United States; the Department of Justice has done some work on this, along with the University of Illinois, outlining what the conditions are and how technology needs to be part of requirements if someone wants to remain out of jail or where they are defying a domestic violence order. Victims report relief when they can go about their daily business unsupervised, unobserved, unhindered by perpetrators. Sadly, technology can impede on that opportunity and cause great harm and hardship. We need to make sure, as we tackle a scourge that has been in our community for way too long, we understand the new tools that are being used by perpetrators. (Time expired)

Photo of Nola MarinoNola Marino (Forrest, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion.

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Dunkley for moving this important motion, and I recognise the seriousness with which the vast majority of members of this parliament take the issue of men's violence against women. I particularly welcome this motion, and the Prime Minister's recognition, that all violence against women begins with the disrespect of women—or, put another way, that violence against women begins with gender inequality, the beliefs and attitudes of individuals, and the structural imbalances in our society that allow some men to feel that they are entitled to exercise power and control over the women in their lives.

Before I came into this place, I spent the better part of a decade working in the Australian technology sector. I love gadgets. I love new technologies. I love the way they empower us to do more efficiently what we already do and allow us to do new things that we had never imagined before. However, unfortunately, for some men these new technologies are also giving them new opportunities to exercise power and control over the women in their lives. You can ask anyone on the front lines of services provisions to victims of family violence, and they will tell you that perpetrators of violence are increasingly using technology to stalk, intimidate, harass, threaten and abuse their victims; to send a constant stream of controlling or threatening messages; to monitor their social interactions; even to track their movements. Law enforcement officials ought to take this trend seriously. The mere fact that this behaviour occurs online does not diminish the seriousness of its psychological impact on victims.

The most extreme example of how technology is being used to exercise power over victims is the phenomenon of so-called 'revenge porn'—threatening to share private sexual images or films to coerce or control victims, or sharing those images publicly to shame and harm victims. You can imagine the impact that sending private sexual material to a woman's friends, work colleagues or family can have. It can cause serious and ongoing harm to a victim's career, reputation and mental health. Given the nature of the internet, once these images are online victims are left with the lifelong anxiety that they could merge at the worst possible time—before a job interview, at the start of a new relationship or when their children are starting a new school and making new friends.

Victims also suffer significant ongoing harassment, often from third parties who have found the images on line and connected them to the victim. This ongoing harm has led victims of revenge porn to suffer from depression and anxiety and, unfortunately, some have committed suicide. The mere threat of these images being shared is often enough to prevent victims of family violence from leaving an abusive relationship, adding an additional layer of malevolent control that can make seeking help even more difficult.

Our laws and police responses, however, are failing to provide adequate protection to victims of family violence in this respect. Victoria and South Australia are the only state governments that have legislated against revenge porn, meaning there is only patchwork protection across Australia. We need to act quickly and respond to the growing harm that is being caused by this emerging practice urgently by implementing new laws to plug the gaps in the protection available to victims.

That is why last year the member for Griffith and I introduced a private member's bill to criminalise revenge porn across Australia. Despite this, the government refuses to bring on this bill for debate or a vote. I honestly cannot imagine that there would be a single member of this parliament who would vote against this proposition, who would argue that criminalising this behaviour is not what we ought to be doing. So why is the government not allowing a vote on this bill?

In response to a letter from the member for Griffith and me calling for debate on this bill, the Minister for Women, Senator Cash, responded that this is quite a complex legal issue and that there are existing legal provisions that could be used to prosecute this offence. Instead of acting, the minister informed us that the government is kicking the can down the road through COAG. Frankly, this is squibbing the issue. There is nothing complex about whether or not we should criminalise revenge porn. It does not take a room full of bureaucrats to tell you that it is wrong and that the law should say so clearly.

And as for existing legal provisions, the Commonwealth DPP told the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee's inquiry into revenge porn that:

There are limitations on existing Commonwealth laws to adequately deal with ‘revenge porn’ conduct.

And that the circumstances in which revenge porn might be caught by existing laws are 'limited' and 'uncommon'.

This is precisely why the member for Griffith and I introduced our bill—to send a clear message to the Australian public, to law enforcement officials and to prosecutors that this behaviour is not only wrong but, clearly, contrary to law. No police officer or public prosecutor should be in any doubt about the intent of parliament with respect to this behaviour.

Talk is cheap in this space. There is a great deal of talk about respecting women, addressing gender inequality and reducing family violence. But this is an area where it is time to act. The government should not delay acting on this issue merely because it does not want to support a bill introduced by the opposition. I am pleased that the Turnbull government has picked up Labor's proposal to hold a national crisis summit on family violence, bringing together advocates, service providers and stakeholders in the one room with decision makers. The Prime Minister should adopt a similar approach here, and adopt Labor's proposal to criminalise revenge porn across Australia. This is a straightforward policy question with a straightforward legislative response.

11:13 am

Photo of Nola MarinoNola Marino (Forrest, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I congratulate and thank the member for Dunkley for this particular motion.

I want to focus on the issue of technology in this space, that the member also covered in the motion. Cyberstalking by husbands, partners and exs—it those secretly watching and perhaps listening, all from a distance. Cyberstalking is now, unfortunately, a standard part of domestic abuse. It is about power, it is about domination and it is about control.

Spyware is software that is downloaded onto a device simply by opening an email with some embedded spyware in it from someone you do not know. You can download that particular spyware. It can be done by a parent downloading a spyware app onto a child or adult's device, activating it and then deleting visible traces. There can be genuine reasons—those could be the safety of a child—or they can be to track a mother, a child or a family. Spyware uses misleading labels and it does not actually take up much data—you will not notice it. It can be hidden in mobile apps. Someone can activate the camera on your phone or the microphone on your device remotely.

There are spyware companies and websites that offer a service that takes 30 seconds to track any mobile phone anywhere in the world using software that runs on Android, iPhone or Windows operating systems. The service offers the option, and tells you, that the owner of the phone will not notice that they are being tracked. The perpetrator simply monitors the person from the website of the spyware company. There is also the key logger function that records everything the victim types into the phone—so bank account details and other information are also visible on the spyware site. They can eavesdrop on conversations, and key loggers can be installed, as I said, with what looks like an innocuous email. You have geotagging and location services where GPS coordinates are embedded in a photo. Through that, a perpetrator can watch, track and attack.

The amount of threat that is involved in this is extraordinary. We have seen young people attacked through this process. Women's refuges, or those who simply leave a violent or abusive relationship, should immediately deal with their devices—the devices that have tracking systems. Shut off GPS and wi-fi, stay away from social media—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram; whatever—and remember that the perpetrator will be monitoring the sites of your family and friends to see you wherever you are, because you might pop up; they might take photos of you. So please make sure that children do the same. Sometimes the abusive partner, the perpetrator, can give a child an iPhone as a gift during their parents' separation with the sole intent of tracking the family and the mother. Often the children are told to keep this a secret: 'This is between you and me, because you know how much I love you, and I want to be able to talk to you. Or you can tell me when to send a text message when it's okay for us to talk. Or, even better, send me photos.' Then, of course, if you have location services or geotagging turned on, they can look through those photos, follow you, monitor you and have access to track the family.

The government has done a lot of work with the e-safety commissioner, and there is much more ahead to be done. I think everybody needs to know a lot more about their personal devices. When you go and buy any device you need to know the security strengths and weaknesses, and it is incumbent upon all of us to know exactly what our devices can and cannot do and what others can do to our devices. We are seeing more and more technology enabled crime. As far as young people are concerned, when it is someone in their family that they love who has given them this particular device and asked them to stay in touch, they are most likely to keep that a secret. I know it is an issue in women's refuges. In my work to help educate people in the community and in schools, it is one of the issues that I have raised. I also know that local police are doing the same with refuges.

When someone is in an abusive relationship, this is the first thing they need to deal with. It is just a fact of life. It can be the last thing they think of in a very emotional and stressful situation, but I would encourage everybody who is in this abusive situation: they really must do this immediately. It is the first thing they can do to protect themselves and their families, and I commend the member for Dunkley for a very important private member's motion in the chamber today.

11:18 am

Photo of Terri ButlerTerri Butler (Griffith, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In government Labor established the policy infrastructure needed to respond to family and domestic violence and reduce violence against women and their children. The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children commenced in 2010 and runs to 2022. The plan has seen the establishment of Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety and also Our Watch, the foundation to end violence against women and their children. It has also seen the establishment and expansion of the national counselling hotline, 1800Respect. The plan and the work done to give effect to it have brought the national epidemic of family and domestic violence to the nation's attention. It has generated political will needed to respond. The subsequent appointment of Rosie Batty as 2015 Australian of the Year catalysed the swelling public sentiment and turned it into a national focus on family and domestic violence. I am hopeful that David Morrison, this year's Australian of the Year and Our Watch ambassador and director, will help to keep domestic violence in the spotlight.

But it has not all been good news in the national effort to reduce family and domestic violence. It is not just that more needs to be done, though that is true. It is a shame that the Turnbull government has yet to provide a meaningful response to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee's report of August 2015 in relation to family and domestic violence.

But it is worse than that. The Turnbull government's cuts are undermining the nation's response to family and domestic violence. There have been cuts in the order of tens of millions of dollars from community legal centres, legal aid commissions and Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander legal services. There has been a cut of $44 million each year to the capital expenditure component of homelessness services. The Turnbull government's failure to adequately resource the family law courts is a national disgrace and is directly affecting victims and survivors of family and domestic violence. The government needs to do better. Unfortunately, on family and domestic violence, as in so many other areas, the Turnbull government's actions do not reflect its words. The Turnbull government says one thing and does another.

It is also not good enough that the government is in here with a motion about technology facilitated abuse at the same time as it is refusing to legislate to make so-called revenge porn a crime. In a report of October 2015, Digital harassment and abuse of adult Australians, RMIT researchers Anastasia Powell and Nicola Henry said:

1 in 10 Australians reported that someone had posted online or sent onto others a nude or semi-nude image of them without their permission

That is one in 10, Deputy Speaker.

The member for Gellibrand and I have introduced a bill for a specific criminal offence in relation to the circulation of intimate images and recordings without consent. We have called on the government to support our bill, both publicly in the press and by letter of October last year. Incredibly, in January this year, the Minister for Women wrote to us, refusing to support our bill and, instead, putting it on the backburner until COAG provides a comprehensive response to technology facilitated abuse.

We say there is no need to wait any longer. In November, the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee commenced an inquiry into so-called revenge porn. Support for legislating a specific measure, a specific criminal offence, criminalising the non-consensual sharing of intimate images and videos such as the one that we propose in our private member's bill can be found in a submission to that inquiry from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. The submission stated clearly:

There are limitations on existing Commonwealth laws to adequately deal with ‘revenge porn’ conduct.

  …   …   …

In limited situations, the CDPP

the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions—

observes that there may be coverage of such conduct by an offence contra 474.17(1). However, such situations will be uncommon.

That is what the Director of Public Prosecutions said in its public submission to the inquiry in relation to revenge porn that is currently on foot.

Obviously, there are other forms of technology facilitated abuse, like the covert installation of spying applications to read your partner's messages and track her movements, the types of applications that members have already spoken about in this debate. But the fact that there are other responses that may be needed to technologically facilitated abuse, as well as responding to revenge porn, does not remove the need to act decisively and swiftly to do with the non-consensual sharing of intimate images and videos.

We have heard in this debate about the harm that can be done. It is obvious. Passing our bill right now would demonstrate to the community that the leadership of this country is serious about stopping this abuse. So while I support the sentiment of this motion sentiment is not enough. It would be greatly disappointing if it turns out that this is just another example of the Turnbull government saying one thing and doing another.

11:23 am

Photo of Matt WilliamsMatt Williams (Hindmarsh, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to contribute to the motion put by the member for Dunkley, the Hon. Bruce Billson, regarding domestic violence, and I commend the member's commitment to important causes and his passion for a variety of policy issues across the spectrum.

In his first paragraph, the member has moved that the House recognise the importance of changing our country's national culture so that disrespecting women becomes fundamentally un-Australian. The question of how to change culture is one confronted head on recently by Australian of the Year David Morrison in his time as Chief of Army. To quote General Morrison: 'We all need to come to grips with our culture and how much it counts.' Although culture is usually intangible, 'it shapes our perspective of who we are as Australians.' The first step is to acknowledge that a culture shift is in fact necessary, that domestic violence is a scourge on our society and is part of a greater problem with gender equality that Australia can and must tackle.

At a national level, important steps have been taken in this parliament and across Australia. We have seen a new focus on the origins and impact of domestic violence, led by the coalition and former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty. Rosie Batty has been an outstanding advocate for tackling domestic violence and she has welcomed General Morrison's championing of this cause.

Another strong voice in this conversation is the Minister for Women, the Hon. Micaela Cash, who joined me in the Hindmarsh Electorate last year for a Domestic Violence forum with the Zonta District 23 Club. I would like to thank all of the groups and organisations represented at the forum, including the Central District Violence Service, White Ribbon, Uniting Communities, Uniting Care Wesley, Migrant Women's Support Service, Centacare Catholic Family Services, Soroptimist International SA and Women's Legal Service SA. It was great to have so many local residents, representatives from community groups and members of parliament come together to share stories and, importantly, provide constructive ideas for the government to consider.

Of course cultural change is only one part of confronting this problem. As Rosie Batty recognised, 'This is a government that has made tackling domestic violence a national priority.' We have demonstrated this not just with words but also with policy and initiatives. The government's commitment to provide appropriate resources to address domestic violence is clearly evidenced by our $100 million contribution to the second action plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children. The package develops a clear path of practical measures to improve the safety of women at high risk of experiencing violence. The package will improve frontline support and services, leverage innovative technologies—something that we have heard from the member for Dunkley and my colleague in Western Australia—to keep women safe, and provide education resources to help change community attitudes to violence and abuse. In collaboration with state and territory governments, the 12-year national plan aims to bring about a significant and sustained reduction in violence against women and their children through a whole-of-community effort.

The Commonwealth is also delivering a $30 million national campaign, jointly funded by the state and territory governments, to focus on how we change attitudes in relation to violence against women and children. Education is fundamental to changing attitudes and achieving the cultural change that is required to eradicate domestic violence in Australia.

Another important initiative is the Building Safe Communities for Women grant, which is a Commonwealth government initiative under the national plan. The Commonwealth government is investing over $4 million across 28 projects to help local communities reduce violence against women. This is so important, as things happen at a local level and not just across the national spectrum. The successful grant recipients will each receive up to $150,000 to develop solutions to local issues, working with local police, local community groups and local welfare organisations. One of the projects is the development of a youth network in Adelaide to better detect and act upon the incidences of domestic violence. I look forward to seeing how these projects bring together governments, organisations and communities to support women and their children experiencing violence, and to prevent it from happening in the first place. As the social services minister has said, 'These projects will give us a better understanding of what approaches work and why—invaluable knowledge that will be shared between the grant recipients and made available to other communities.'

As a local MP, I have heard a number of harrowing stories of domestic violence first hand, and I thank the women who have taken the time to describe their experiences to me. We have a long way to go. One in six Australian women has experienced violence from a current or former partner and one in three has experienced physical violence. This is unacceptable and it should be un-Australian. I commend this motion and the work undertaken by the federal government and many others throughout our community. I commend the member for Dunkley for bringing this motion forward today.

11:28 am

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Dunkley for bringing this important issue to the attention of the House. When it comes to family violence, I think we can all agree that it is incumbent on all of us to take a leadership role in this parliament. It is a sad face that by the end of this week at least one woman in Australia will have been killed by her partner or former partner. A great nation such as ours cannot passively tolerate such sickening statistics. Unless we take decisive action, this tragedy will be repeated tomorrow, the day after and all the days to follow.

For too many years, far too often, victims of family violence have essentially been the forgotten people, left to live in fear and suffer in silence. Even the use of the word 'domestic' connoted something that was private, a place that we did not go. But we have made great progress over the years in terms of cultural change and attitudinal change. Laws have changed, support services have improved and there is a greater public understanding developed around the issue. But that is not to say that there are not enormous challenges, and some of them are pointed out in this motion.

Of course, one enormous challenge is the issue of family violence occurring in so many of our migrant communities. Late last year, I held a roundtable with Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek and a number of representatives from various subcontinent communities. They face particular barriers to understanding that it is a crime if violence is being perpetrated on them, where they can go to for specific support and the funding that is needed to provide that support. I think that will remain an enormous challenge, but I do want to commend many individual community groups across our society who are doing outreach specifically for women and families in ethnic communities who have, unfortunately, experienced such violence.

In my 10 years as a lawyer before coming to this place, the only time I went to court was as a pro bono duty solicitor on the domestic violence roster at the Downing Centre. I got to see, over 10 years, the consequences of family violence in a legal sense, as well as some of the different forms of family violence. There is physical violence, psychological violence, the withholding of access to children, the withholding of access to money and even threats of deportation. So I welcome the $100 million package the government has put forward. But I think it is important to point out that this package needs to be backed up with practical measures. When you start cutting $270 million from community services, $44 million from homelessness services, $22 million from community legal aid and $15 million from legal aid, the impact is enormous. I saw what a difference it made when successive state and federal governments over that 10-year period put money into these areas, actually invested in them. We were able to have a separate room for briefing our clients. We were able to have more support workers. An enormous practical difference can be made by using that money effectively.

In the time I have left, it would be most remiss of me not to mention that we commemorate the fact that on 2 February—last week—it was 30 years since the brutal abduction and murder of Anita Cobby, a young woman from Blacktown. It was 2 February 1986. I remember it vividly. I remember describing it in later years as an absolute abomination. I remember the scenes of the crowds outside Blacktown Police Station—the noose being held up there.

But I do not want to remember the perpetrators. I want to pay particular tribute to Anita's sister Kathryn and to her parents, who had such grace and dignity at such a trying time, and I particularly want to mention a recent fundraising event that took place at the Blacktown Workers Club, where 700 people gathered—and apparently 700 people had to be turned away. The event celebrated Anita's life and the positive change that came out of something so brutal. Around $200,000 was raised towards building an institution called Grace's Place, named after Anita's mother, Grace Lynch, who was indeed a model of grace in such terrible times. It is intended to be a trauma and treatment centre for children who have experience of family homicide. It is to be built in Doonside. It will apparently cost about $2.8 million and is to be completed in September 2018. I want to commend the organisers of that function, particularly the Blacktown Workers Club, which pledged over $50,000 towards it and have been unfailing in their support of the White Ribbon project. We remember Anita Cobby—we remember her for the wonderful woman that she was—and we say that we will not tolerate such violence in our community ever again.

11:33 am

Photo of John AlexanderJohn Alexander (Bennelong, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on this important motion on domestic violence raised by my good friend and colleague the honourable member for Dunkley. I congratulate every member who has spoken on this issue. The issues around women's safety and domestic violence are well known to most in this place. As a White Ribbon ambassador, I have stood here on several occasions and talked about some of the horrifying numbers that summarise the extent of this problem. Every week one woman is killed as a result of intimate partner violence. One in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence and one in four children has been exposed to domestic violence. This is a problem that strikes at the core of our nation.

The Turnbull government are unequivocal in our position that domestic violence is absolutely unacceptable, and we are implementing measures to prevent and respond to this matter as a key priority. We are currently providing over half a billion dollars to frontline services to support vulnerable Australian, including survivors of domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Order Scheme will ensure the protection of survivors through an automatic national registration of offenders rather than the current state-by-state system. The government has also announced a $100 million Women's Safety Package, which will be a national pilot initiative trialling 12 specialist domestic violence units and four health-justice partnerships.

Points 4 and 5 of the motion refer to the role of technology in violence against women. This can come in the form of applications used by perpetrators used to track and stalk their victims or other ways to facilitate their abuse. However, as is often the case, technology can also have its golden edge and offer positive opportunities for the protection of women and the deterrence of violence. There is a company based in my electorate of Bennelong who seem to have perfected this technology. A little company by the name of 3M. We are touching and are surrounded by products of 3M right here in this place right now. Many people around the world know this global science innovation company as the inventor of the humble Post-It note. Yet, as someone who has been fortunate enough to tour the 3M innovation centre in North Ryde on multiple occasions, I can verify that they make much more than revolutionary stationery products. 3M products can be found on aeroplanes, dusty outback road signs and even in surgery on the human body.

Last year I was advised by 3M of their latest breakthrough: the bilateral electronic monitoring device for domestic violence prevention. This is a GPS based system that empowers victims of violence to go back to their normal lives without the previous threats that hung over them. The technology operates by continually verifying the location of both the aggressor and the survivor and raises an alert when they come within the proximity of each other. This occurs in several stages ranging form an amber alert at several kilometres, to a red alert at 100 metres and an imminent danger alert in the immediate vicinity. The alerts are received at a monitoring centre, and by the survivor, to give time to avoid contact and get to a safe location. The device also features a panic button in case another aggressor or non-monitored threat appears. This technology has been proven successful in Europe and South America. In Spain 3,300 pairs of devices have been dispensed leading to zero fatalities since the start of the program in 2009.

Earlier today I met with two gentlemen—and I do men gentle men—from 3M leading this initiative, Phil Scott and Richard Lord. Richard has over 20 years experience at the frontline of this issue as a former New South Wales police officer. These gents were clearly passionate about the possibility inherent in this technology and how it could be used to change and perhaps save the lives of thousands of Australian women. Richard, who was stationed in the eastern suburbs, which is one of the most diverse areas of Sydney, told me that the last situation that he was engaged in resulted in the death of a women from Point Piper—the most expensive area of Sydney. I am planning to host the Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Women for a tour of the 3M innovation centre in Bennelong to see firsthand the opportunity presented by this technological breakthrough. I extend that offer to yourself and every member of this House, and I look forward to the day— (Time expired)

11:38 am

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to support the motion moved by the member for Dunkley, and thank him for his commitment to shining further light on the darkness that is domestic and family violence in Australia. Too many Australian women experience domestic violence every day and the emotional, physical, social and economic cost of that is both enormous and shameful. Ending violence against women and children is a challenge that belongs to the whole community, not any one individual or group. In meeting that challenge we must ensure that we have adequately funded support services in place, that justice and protection for victims is readily available and that awareness and prevention programs are ongoing, monitored and assessed for their effectiveness.

We cannot remain silent when we see cuts to vital domestic violence education programs, frontline legal services, women's refuges and support programs. We must also insist on quality reporting in the media, to help build awareness of the impacts of gender stereotyping and inequality, and demand a whole-of-government approach, across multiple portfolios and jurisdictions, to help address the deep structural inequalities in our society.

The motion before us also highlights disturbing new evidence of technology—and smart phone tracking applications in particular—being used by perpetrators of family violence to obtain and monitor the location of their victims. Technology facilitated abuse is a profoundly worrying development that deserves the attention of all governments when developing strategies to combat domestic violence. I join with my Labor colleagues the member for Griffith and the member for Gellibrand in calling on the Turnbull government to support their private members bill to prohibit the abusive practice of revenge porn in Australia.

There are also wonderful examples of very positive ways that technology is being used by women and children experiencing violence. In particular I would like to note some of the applications and websites that are promoted by 1800Respect, the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service. There is the iMatter app, for example, developed by Doncaster Community Care and Counselling in Victoria. The app was developed to help young women understand the warning signs of abusive and controlling behaviour in relationships, as well as promote healthy self-esteem. The LiveFree app jointly produced by Doncare and the Rotary Club of Doncaster includes quizzes, scenarios and answers to common questions like 'What happens if I call the police?' and 'Are you safe at home?', with important links to support services across Victoria. The Re-Focus app was developed by the Women's Legal Service in Queensland, and provides a combination of legal information, practical steps and coping tips for women about separation. We know that separating from a violent partner is the most dangerous time for women and their children. This app looks at your rights and options to stay safe.

The New South Wales government's Aurora app rolled out in 2013 masks the user's search history and enables them to call emergency services or a pre-arranged contact through the app if requiring help, and the call does not appear in the phone's call history. It also includes information on safety planning and lists some sexual assault services available. The Positive Pathways app, developed by Zonta House Refuge Association in Western Australia, is a safety and wellbeing app for women experiencing family and domestic violence. The app has the facade of a women's wellness app with inspirational quotes, positive moments and a daily diary which is password protected. The main function, however, is the emergency functionality with audio recording, pre-written help SMS and GPS location and a one-touch 000 call function. MyWitness is a digital witness in your pocket and an emergency response app. It has a personal video safety system that alerts the people you trust most whenever you are in danger, feeling threatened or need help. And KiteString checks up on you with a text message when you are out. If you do not respond, a text message is sent to your friends. No downloads are needed and you do not even need a smartphone.

I commend the developers of all of these apps and websites for the work they are undertaking to support victims of violence, in particular women experiencing domestic and family violence. Finally, I again thank the member for Dunkley for his motion and the opportunity to speak on these important matters. We must always challenge the beliefs and behaviours that excuse, justify or condone gendered violence and inequality in Australia.

Photo of Andrew SouthcottAndrew Southcott (Boothby, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.