Monday, 29 July 2019
Domestic and Family Violence
That the Senate—
(a) notes that :
(i) the 2019 Federal Budget allocated $10 million to "Specialised Family Violence Services", including individual or couples counselling and dispute resolution services, as part of the funding package for domestic violence,
(ii) in April 2019, the Department of Social Services, announced a targeted grants program for the delivery of Specialised Family Violence Services under the Families and Communities Program,
(iii) women's safety organisations have consistently raised concerns that couples counselling in family violence situations can put women and children in danger, and urged that all counselling services be delivered by experienced specialist practitioners,
(iv) many of the organisations listed as eligible to apply for the Specialised Family Violence Services grants were faith-based family relationship services, rather than specialist domestic and family violence services,
(v) the initial grant guidelines for the Specialised Family Violence Services did not require applicants to demonstrate that they would meet the National Outcome Standards for Perpetrator Interventions,
(vi) while updated grant guidelines encouraged applicants to partner with specialist sector organisations and to demonstrate expertise in family and domestic violence and compliance with relevant standards, the guidelines did not exclude applicants that did not have this expertise, and
(vii) significant additional funding for frontline domestic and family violence support services is essential to achieve the objectives of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) ensure that survivors of violence are not forced to undergo counselling with perpetrators,
(ii) ensure that all government funded counselling services for family violence are delivered by expert family violence service providers in accordance with the National Outcome Standards for Perpetrator Interventions,
(iii) adequately fund frontline domestic violence and crisis housing services to ensure that all women seeking safety can access these services when and where they need them, and
(iv) adequately fund the provision of safe and specific family violence support services for Aboriginal, culturally and linguistically diverse, and LGBTIQ communities.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
This is an important motion that really goes to the heart of expert advice from frontline service providers in the family and domestic violence space; from our lead national researcher, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, ANROWS; and from Australian Women Against Violence Alliance, AWAVA, one of the lead womens' advocacy bodies. They are begging the government to not require couples counselling where there have been recorded incidents of domestic violence. Frontline services desperately need more funding. However, to allocate funding for mandatory or even optional, but forced, couples counselling in incidences of violence in a relationship where other services are struggling for funding is against the advice of these expert bodies. It's clear that we need trained experts to be providing services, not faith based organisations to be requiring couples counselling, which is what the government's criteria provide for.
This motion is misleading. The government is funding an expansion of specialised family violence services primarily to provide additional services for children who witness or experience violence. Specialist family violence services do not force survivors to undergo counselling with perpetrators, and all funded services must be delivered in accordance with the National Outcome Standards for Perpetrator Interventions. The government believes it should provide a wide range of services to encourage women to come forward to access the support that is their right. The Morrison government has committed a record $328 million for prevention and frontline services under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. We do not require couples counselling.
One Nation is opposed to domestic violence, but I find this motion divisive. Section 3 says:
… adequately fund frontline domestic violence and crisis housing services to ensure that all women seeking safety can access these services when and where they need them …
Men are faced with domestic violence as well, and there is no shelter for men and their children who are facing domestic violence. I feel it's very selective and divisive. And section 4 says:
… adequately fund the provision of safe and specific family violence support services for Aboriginal, culturally and linguistically diverse, and LGBTIQ communities …
That is very divisive. I believe that, if you're going to do it, you do it for all Australians equally.