House debates

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Questions without Notice

Women's Safety, COVID-19: Women

2:32 pm

Photo of Nicolle FlintNicolle Flint (Boothby, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Women. Will the minister please update the House on the Morrison government's commitment to keeping women safe online and outline the steps taken to provide critical support to women through the COVID-19 pandemic?

2:33 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Boothby for her question. I thank her for speaking up about the vicious ongoing hate campaign that is being waged against her. Her call to 'judge me not by what I look like but by what I do' was heard by women in every corner of the country. The member for Boothby didn't do this for herself, because yesterday she was straight back representing vulnerable disadvantaged women, bringing them to this parliament and speaking up for them. Her voice is incredible.

The determination of every member of this parliament, on both sides, to improve the safety of all Australian women is shared by the government and its current actions. I talked about our national partnership on COVID-19 domestic or family violence and how we've helped boost the capacity of states and territories to deliver domestic violence support during the pandemic. That helped address what appeared to be a tragic increase in violence. Isolation and lockdowns, unfortunately, took their toll in pressures on families. There were more than 30,000 additional calls to 1800RESPECT in May, June and July last year than during the previous year. Victoria in particular saw the impact of the tough lockdowns. Twenty per cent more contacted the 1800 service. This funding on the ground helped boost crisis hotlines, women's refuges, surges in case workers, flexible support packages of funding and emergency accommodation.

But online safety is also an important focus of the government. The minister for communications will soon introduce a new online safety act. This act will include establishing a world-first cyberabuse takedown scheme for Australian adults, based on the success of our cyberbullying scheme for children—'It's not appropriate; take it down'—reducing the time frame that providers need to remove image based abuse, cyber abuse, cyberbullying and seriously harmful online content. It's now at 48 hours. It's going down to 24 hours. If something like that is up there about you or a vulnerable woman or, indeed, anyone—and the member for Boothby knows this only too well—take it down.

There's always more work to do. For rural women, who need a safe place to go, for women everywhere, who demand respectful and safe workplaces, and for everyone who deserves to be safe online we are determined to change and change for the better.