Wednesday, 4 August 2021
Questions without Notice
Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence
My question is to the Minister for Women's Safety, Senator Ruston. Can the minister please update the Senate on how the Liberal and Nationals government is working towards the goal of ending violence against women and their children?
I thank Senator Chandler for her question on this extraordinarily important subject. The Morrison government is absolutely focused on making Australia a place that is free from violence against women and their children. We demonstrated our commitment to ending domestic, family and sexual violence against women in the 2021-22 budget, where we made the largest ever commitment to women's safety with our $1.1 billion package. This absolutely historic package is a key measure that will contribute towards the zero target that this government is absolutely committed to.
Importantly, the package is also a down payment on the next national plan, not only to reduce violence but to end violence against women and their children. Working towards this important goal, the next national plan absolutely must be an ambitious blueprint to stop the rot that is family, domestic and sexual violence across our national landscape. It will not only build on the previous work of the previous national plan but it will respond to urgent new issues that we're facing today and build a base for emerging issues that are likely to occur into the future.
The upcoming women's safety summit on 6 and 7 September this year will be a critical step in the development of this new plan. The summit will provide us with an opportunity to shine a light on the terrible violence that women from all walks of life experience in Australia. It will discuss key issues of women's safety, including financial security, policing and justice responses, sexual violence and the challenges facing diverse members of the Australian community. The two-day program will also include a series of roundtables that will inform the consultation process as we work towards developing the next national plan. By bringing together a cross section of Australian community, the voices of all Australians will have the opportunity to be heard.
We have a number of measures that we're putting in place because we believe, first and foremost, that when women are making the brave decision to escape a violent situation they need to have a safe place to go. That is why we're providing $144 million for the escaping violence payment and we have provided $72.6 million for the safe places program across the country. The escaping violence program will provide immediate access to funds for women and children when they flee a violent situation, to allow them to pay for things such as school fees, rental bonds and the like. The safe places funding bolsters the $1.6 billion already provided in housing and homelessness funding to make sure that we have new emergency accommodation built specifically for women escaping violence. Safe places will help nearly 6½ thousand women and children every year not just in metropolitan areas but also across rural and regional Australia.
Recently I visited the Monash University Department of Forensic Medicine, which had received $4.5 million from the government to develop and implement Australia's first accredited training course for health practitioners and frontline workers to improve their responses to sexual violence victims. Participants in the courses that are being run by Monash University will learn how to identify risk factors and respond to disclosures in sensitive and appropriate ways. It's absolutely vital that, when someone discloses an experience of sexual violence, their disclosure is handled appropriately and with care. We believe that, by arming and training healthcare professionals with expertise so that they can understand the signs, the symptoms and the risks that are associated with violence, we can assist many, many more people. I want to take this opportunity to urge anyone who needs support to call 1800RESPECT at any time of the day.