House debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Constituency Statements

Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence

10:34 am

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

This year we witnessed a powerful reckoning, with tens of thousands of women marching across Australia demanding an end to violence. The brave women who came forward inspired many others to share their stories of violence and harassment. Following a massive public backlash over the Prime Minister's behaviour, and under enormous public pressure to act after ignoring women's safety for eight long years, the Morrison government hurried to make new announcements and new appointments. Eight months on, there's very little evidence of delivery. The Prime Minister's promise of extra funding to fight domestic violence has been exposed as yet another heartless con, another hollow announcement from a government with no intention of delivering.

We know that throughout COVID-19 there has been exacerbation of domestic and family violence, with almost one in 10 women in a relationship experiencing domestic violence during the pandemic. Two-thirds of them say that it was then that the attacks started or indeed got worse. I want to recognise the tireless work of all frontline community based organisations who give so much of themselves to support women and children fleeing violence, despite a desperate lack of resources from this government. Each and every day you are on the front line, giving women the support, advice and assistance they need to take the most difficult of steps, constrained only by the shameful lack of support and action from this government.

I'd particularly like to acknowledge the important work of Nova for Women and Children, Jenny's Place and Warlga Ngurra in Newcastle. As for so many services across the country, government funding has not kept up with demand. Frontline workers are crying out for support. That's why the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign is so important. That's why we must pressure this government every day to do better. It has been eight long years of coalition governments failing to make any impact on putting an end to violence against women and children. That's why it's way past time to be talking about this issue.

It is essential that we elevate women's safety to a national priority. That's why an Anthony Albanese Labor government will establish a family, domestic and sexual violence commissioner. We know that's just the beginning. Labor is committed to action and to bringing down the rates of violence in our communities. Right now, women who are fleeing violence are being turned away from services because this government has not funded enough workers to help then, and that's not okay. An Albanese Labor government will also fund 500 new community sector workers to support women in crisis, with half of these working in rural and regional communities like mine. That builds on our commitment to provide social housing to those fleeing violence, to 10 days paid domestic violence leave and to the implementation of all recommendations from Respect@Work. (Time expired)