House debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021


Domestic, Family And Sexual Violence

9:52 am

Photo of Rick WilsonRick Wilson (O'Connor, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Ahead of tomorrow's International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I rise to draw members' attention to the inconsistencies in Labor's rhetoric on this very serious issue. Today's West Australian newspaper reports that one woman is killed every week in Australia by a partner or former partner. The West also recounts that violence is the leading cause of preventable death, illness and disability for women aged 15 to 44. Police are called to a domestic violence incident every two minutes. This senseless violence must stop.

To that end, the Morrison government has announced it will establish a domestic, family and sexual violence commission. The Commonwealth is walking the walk, not just talking the talk, by committing $22.4 million over five years to establish the commission. The commission will support the development of policy to address violence against women, develop relationships with service providers and improve cooperation between the Commonwealth, states and territories. Further, this year's federal budget committed more than $1.1 billion to reducing family and domestic violence and making Australia safer for women and children.

In my electorate, the Goldfields Indigenous Housing Organisation will receive $780,000 to build four units to house women an children escaping violence. The funding will assist more than 70 women around children in the Western Australian Goldfields each year. The chair of the Goldfields Indigenous Housing Organisation, my friend Dianne Logan, tells me that many Aboriginal women fleeing violence are not comfort comfortable in mainstream shelters, so having housing specific to the needs of Indigenous people is critical. In Albany, the Southern Aboriginal Corporation will receive more than $3 million to build a six-unit crisis centre to support women and children in the Great Southern region. Their CEO, Asha Bhat, was in Parliament House in May and said the corporation's current refuge was at full capacity. Ms Bhat said that many families were being housed in other towns where they do not necessarily feel safe or welcome. She said a crisis centre in Albany would greatly alleviate this situation.

I also see in today's West Australian that the federal Labor leader is talking a big game on tackling violence. Mr Albanese says there should be greater cooperation between the Commonwealth and the states. He claims there is no single thing that would help reduce domestic violence. Yet in my electorate there is a single thing that Mr Albanese could do through the WA Labor Party to reduce domestic violence. The Southern Aboriginal Corporation tells me that their planned project, which includes an outdoor kitchen, adventure playground and healing and counselling rooms, is under threat. That's because WA Labor are yet to come to the party with operational funding. Southern Aboriginal Corporation tells me it wishes to partner with Anglicare, which has experience in running similar services in Albany and with acquitting state funding. Like the Goldfields project, the Albany one was announced back in May under the Commonwealth's $72.6 million Safe Places Emergency Accommodation program.

Like all good programs, safe places is part of a wider strategy, in this case the $340 million fourth action plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. Again, like all good programs, safe places has concrete milestones that recipients must meet. In the Southern Aboriginal Corporation's case, their first milestone includes the achievement of an agreement on operational funding by 30 April next year. It's now almost December, the clock is ticking and no operational funding has been forthcoming from the WA Labor government.

That's why I've written to Simone McGurk, Western Australia's Minister for Child Protection; Women's Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence; Community Services. Much like Mr Albanese's comments reported in today's West Australian, Ms McGurk's job title suggests that Labor aspires to do something about domestic violence. But there's still no operational funding for a project that the Southern Aboriginal Corporation tells me will support 166 women and children each year.

If Mr Albanese has any sway at all with his WA Labor colleagues, I say to him: get on the phone to Ms McGurk and sort this out. The women and children of the Great Southern region deserve nothing less, and they definitely don't deserve this uncertainty. On the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, concrete action is needed now from Labor, not platitudes about future plans. Sorting out the funding situation in Albany before Christmas would be a tremendous relief for the clients and staff of the Southern Aboriginal Corporation.