Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Domestic and Family Violence, Hairdressers with Hearts
I'd like to share with you tonight some disturbing facts. In Australia, on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. In 2018, 69 women and children were killed as a result of domestic violence. One in six Australian women have been subjected to physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15. That is 1.6 million women. One in four women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous partner. These are the statistics staring us in the face every day when we talk about domestic and family violence. But there are still so many untold stories. So many women and children are currently suffering and have suffered violence and abuse at the hands of someone whom they loved and who should have loved them back—who should have protected them, not harmed them.
No-one deserves to be abused. No-one deserves to have to deal with the pain, the uncertainty, the emotional and psychological trauma and the long-term effects of domestic violence. No woman or child should ever be given a reason to fear for their life. Domestic and family violence tears lives apart. Every day we see the terrible media reports about women and children who have been killed or hurt at the hands of someone else. Our local police departments deal with multiple calls about domestic and family violence every day. Families are forced to watch as their daughter, sister, mother, grandmother or friend suffers because their partner or former partner is abusing them.
I know this because one of my daughters has suffered in a violent relationship. I can remember when my son and I made the four-hour drive to pick her up in the middle of the night because her partner had harmed her physically. I can remember the anger and the feeling of helplessness as we drove back that same night and the confusion and the hurt in her voice, but also the confusion I had as I realised during the conversation the love that she still had for this man.
Domestic abuse affects not only families and friends. I have also had a staff member who was a victim of domestic violence. I can remember the awful sobbing noise as I passed the door of the ladies toilet. This was 12 months after the abuse had ended, but the memory and pain still remained and a trigger had reignited that trauma. It's one thing to hear about these stories, but to hear it for yourself is another thing altogether.
Domestic and family violence can take many forms, whether it's verbal abuse, emotional abuse, social abuse, financial abuse, physical abuse or even stalking. But any form of abuse is never okay. So, to the victims of domestic and family violence, I want to say: it is not your fault and it is never your fault. I knew that this was a problem, but since being elected I've been overwhelmed by the number of organisations that are out there to deal with this problem, which is more evidence of how big a problem it is. I have personally met with eight different organisations in my electorate so far; I've counted and there about another 14 to go before I cover them all. This is an epidemic.
But tonight I want to talk about an organisation that has gone above and beyond when it comes to helping and supporting women who have gone through domestic and family violence. In Longman electorate we have an organisation called Hairdressers with Hearts, who are supporting those facing family and domestic violence, including elder abuse, by harnessing the safe and trusted environment of a hairdressing salon and a barber shop to provide information and support for clients to access the right services and the right advice at the right time. You probably wouldn't have thought that a hairdressing salon would be that place. They do this by utilising the unique advantage of being licensed to touch hair, which allows a close and trusted relationship to develop between a hairdresser or barber and the client. Because of the bond that is created, a hairdresser or barber is often confided in by clients—kind of like the old bartender. It makes sense that this environment produces trust, as often these appointments go for hours and the client is relaxed as they are being pampered. I can testify to this firsthand as I have on occasion gone to collect my wife from a hairdressing appointment, and of course it was running late, and I have heard some of the conversations that my wife has had with her hairdresser. I'm sure the hairdresser knows more about me than I know about myself, which is scary.
Hairdressers with Hearts takes a proactive approach by providing appropriate training and the necessary resources to assist victims who confide in their hairdresser or barber about their current situation. This wonderful organisation, headed up by two ladies, Sonia Colvin and Adrienne Logan, who had no more than a vision and a desire to help others, is fast blossoming into a force to be reckoned with. Sonia has personally helped 131 people in her single salon at Bribie Island. If the 55,000 hairdressers and barbers around Australia helped the same number of people, that would be 7,205,000 people helped—a big dream indeed.
But it is their desire and mine to go a step further. We would like to see another subject added to the curriculum of the certificate III in hairdressing, or hairdressing apprenticeship, for want of a better term. The subject would be along the same lines as one called No More Silence, which was first introduced in Illinois in the United States. In essence, it would give the hairdresser or barber training to identify those who potentially are suffering abuse. Secondly, it would give them the skill set to put these victims in touch with the appropriate organisation that best suited their individual needs. In the US, 16 states currently have this in their hairdressing apprenticeships and we'd like to see it rolled out here in Australia.
To give a little bit of history about Hairdressers with Hearts, it started under the window of a 'safe room' at a Caboolture courthouse, in 2012, with a simple conversation between Sonia Colvin, who was a hairdresser, and a domestic violence worker. It was a dream, a dream of being able to do something to harness the power of hairdressing salons. Hairdressers and barbers are at the front line of the community, reaching people at the grassroots level and having intimate conversations with clients who walk through the door on a regular basis. Their aim with Hairdressers with Hearts is to harness the intimate and trusting relationship between Australia's 55,000 hairdressers and their clients. They believe that by empowering hairdressers with the correct resources and appropriate training they'll be doing their part to make a difference in the lives of many Australians. The number and location of domestic and family violence and elder abuse units across Australia is not sufficient to meet the needs of victims in rural areas. However, most small rural communities have a hairdresser and/or a barber who could safely make resources available for these victims.
They have a great vision, which is to provide every Australian hairdresser and barber with the Hairdressers with Hearts 'no more silence' training so that they are empowered to help clients by providing appropriate resources. In doing so, they will reach the most vulnerable in the community, who may have no idea where to turn. Hairdressers with Hearts has the ability to cross cultural and socioeconomic barriers, because hairdressers are a part of all communities.
Mobile hairdressers are regularly entering the homes of the elderly and the disabled and also nursing homes, reaching some of the most vulnerable and at-risk in our community. The second part of their vision concerns elder abuse. As recently as five years ago my father-in-law, who was suffering from dementia, was subject to a type of abuse that is not often talked about, which is economic and social abuse. He had been reached by a telemarketing company and we took a phone call to say that he was in debt for the sum of around $600 because he hadn't been paying for a teddy bear that he had apparently signed up for six months previously. How they got the number of a man in a dementia clinic I'll never know.
It's so important that we continue to give those who have been through violent situations the help and support that they need to get back on their feet and the confidence to believe in themselves again. This additional subject will achieve just that outcome, because everyone deserves to live in a world without violence. Thank you.
We have just passed an anniversary for those of us first elected in 2013. We have just ticked over six years in the parliament. For me, that's six years of representing the community that I was born in, the community I raised my family in, the community that I worked in as an educator for some 25 of my 27 years in the education sector and a community that I have always loved. But it's also a community that is growing at a rapid rate, and with that comes new and emerging arrivals into our community.
Five years ago, 50 per cent of the people who call Wyndham home now did not live there. The rate of growth is enormous. With that comes certain challenges as well as lots and lots of opportunities. I stand here in this chamber representing that opportunity. I'm a kid who grew up in Werribee, a kid fortunate enough to have had the capacity to get through year 12 and go off to university to become a professional—to become a teacher—and a kid fortunate enough to live in a country where things were there for me to connect with that, ultimately, led me to this place to be the representative of that community. It's extraordinary.
Tonight, I want to recommit to my community that I will continue to be the strong voice that my community needs so desperately, to call the government to account and to help shape policies that a Labor government could implement that would make their lives easier and that would make our community more prosperous. To do that, I need to share a little about the community.
We had a redistribution in Victoria, so the boundaries shifted at the 2019 election. It's with sadness that I no longer represent a part that the previous boundaries gave me to represent, which was Laverton, where I spent many, many years teaching in that community. When boundaries shifted, half of Point Cook went to Gellibrand, as well as Laverton and parts of Seabrook. I'm tinged with sadness to say goodbye to some of those communities that I've come to known over the last six years as their member of parliament. But I want to ensure that people understand that Tim Watts, the member for Gellibrand, is a fabulous representative. The city of Wyndham has reached a new milestone. It now has two representatives in the federal parliament rather than one, which, of course, is always a good thing. Two voices, two strong members here—two strong Labor members—prepared to fight for our community.
I want to give people a bit of a snapshot about what that community is. There are 100 babies born a week to mothers who live in the city of Wyndham. At the heart of Wyndham is the old country suburb of Werribee, where I grew up. I first remember being conscious of the population sign when it said 13,000. In that city it's now a population of over 270,000. The rate of growth has been incredible, dramatic and sustained over many years now.
There are other things about our community. There are 17,000 registered businesses and that's up 32 per cent from 2016. So more and more people are opening small businesses or registering as a small business. We had the highest number of dwelling approvals in Victoria between July 2018 and 2019. The population of Wyndham would fill 2.7 MCGs and the projections are that it will fill almost five MCGs by 2041. The birth rate means that there are 4½ primary school classes born each week. Of every three people you meet in Wyndham one has probably moved here in the past five years. Just under 99 per cent of net migration into our community is from people born overseas. It's a young community. Millennials and younger generations dominate the Wyndham population. Fifty-eight per cent of residents are below 35 years of age. Fortunately, I spent many years in secondary schools and worked with young people. So it doesn't matter how old I get; I feel I can still connect to the people I represent.
The Wyndham Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is the largest in all of Greater Melbourne. You can see the opportunities and the challenges—the opportunities for us to learn about First Australians and their history. Wyndham City Council, our local government, has been doing some fabulous work in that area. If you call 100 random Wyndham residents, 53 of them will speak a language other than English. Together with the cities of Casey and Hume, Wyndham is home to the largest family households in all of Greater Melbourne. More than half of Wyndham households are families with children. The majority of these households have children under 15 years of age. So you can see that the challenges are real.
We currently have 52 schools inside the boundaries of the electorate of Lalor and the demand for new schools continues to grow. One of the parts of the debate that is missing, even locally, is that it's always about: where's the next new school? It's always about the provision of new schools and not often enough about the maintenance of our established schools. Also, it's not often enough about the quality of the education in those schools. As someone who worked in education for so long, I know the challenges that our principals and their teams face when a school opens its doors for prep to year 2 with 200 children and the next year it has 800 children in prep to year 6. There are recruitment challenges and training challenges. There are the challenges of recruitment of experienced staff to come to the new schools. There's an opportunity for the training of teachers in our local schools that very few communities have. But, by the same token, we need leaders in our schools and we need to know that they've been tried and tested—that they can build a school culture and that they can have a focus on teaching and learning rather than extraneous things, to ensure that we're building quality schools. Our community demands that quality education.
I think one of the challenges we face needs to be put on the record. We talked about citizenship last night. Everyone assumes that the world will stay the same: migrants will arrive in Australia and they will dig in; they'll save for a decade or 20 years before they go home on a big trip. The world has changed. The globe is much smaller, not geographically but emotionally. In terms of travel, it's certainly much smaller. Our new communities want a quality education for their children. That is our biggest challenge once we are mobile and living in this global world. I have conversations with people in my electorate who may have just become citizens. They'll go through their family tree and they'll talk about their brother living in Singapore, their mother living in Ireland and their cousins living in the UK. A young girl who works for me recently took eight months to do a world tour. She didn't have to pay for accommodation in any country because she comes from a refugee family that is all over the world. Her travel diary was extraordinary. It brought home to me that, if we don't provide what these families are looking for in our country, they have other options. So the world has changed. Most of our families who came from overseas, those who came in through skilled migration, returned home within two years of receiving their citizenship. They went back to visit family. The world has certainly changed.
One of the extraordinary things in my electorate, and it is another of our absolute challenges, is that we have the largest jobs-to-work deficit in Victoria. That means that, with 270,000 people living in the city of Wyndham, too many have to leave our area to find employment; too many do the long road trip or the long train trip. Not enough jobs are being created in our area. It's a focus for our local government, it's a focus for our state government and it's certainly a focus for me.
I want to finish on the things that we kickstarted out of my office in recent weeks. We had a visit from Jason Clare, who is the shadow minister for homelessness and member for Blaxland. He talked to our not-for-profits and our community organisations in the homelessness space, where the numbers are increasing. We had a visit from Catherine King, who is the shadow minister for infrastructure and member for Ballarat. She sat with our local government to talk about the infrastructure needs and the directions that local governments see us going in. We've also had a forum with Bill Shorten, the member for Maribyrnong and the shadow minister for NBN and Centrelink. It was absolutely fabulous to welcome Bill back into the electorate in his new role—a stark reminder that, if we had won government, there would have been 40 new jobs in Centrelink to help with people's wait times. We heard a lot of sad stories about the NDIS. They're hard to hear, but they're much, much harder to live.