Thursday, 25 November 2021
Questions without Notice
Domestic and Family Violence
My question is to the Minister for Women's Safety, Senator Ruston. Can the minister confirm that, six months after it was announced in this year's budget, not a cent of the $260 million promised in the National Partnership Agreement on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Responses has been paid to the states and territories to distribute to frontline services?
Thank you, Senator McAllister, for your question. Thank you very much for the opportunity to inform the chamber today that the agreement has been signed with the New South Wales government and the money is to be paid to them under the $260 million investment we have made in frontline services. That is in addition to the $130 million that was paid during the COVID pandemic to make sure that frontline services had the additional resources to be able to support women and children. Unfortunately, we saw an increase in demand for those services. But we made sure that that $130 million went straight to the states and territories last year and went straight to frontline services.
In recognition that the impact of domestic and family violence as a result of the pandemic did not end at the end of June this year—it continues to impact our communities—we put in place an additional $130 million per year over two years, somewhat more than $153 million over five, to make sure that the states and territories are in a position to continue to support these frontline services. In return for this, we have asked the states and territories to provide us with information so that we can make sure the money is being targeted to the areas of greatest demand. I acknowledge today New South Wales has come forward and provided us with that additional information so that we can know as a country from a national perspective what actually is the issue, because, as I said this morning in my contribution, we need to make sure that every single dollar and every single resource that is applied to eliminating family, sexual and domestic violence in this country is targeted and coordinated in the best possible way.
This is a shared responsibility; it doesn't just belong to the federal government. State and territory governments have a responsibility as well, and we will continue to work with them to make sure that happens.
In October this minister promised there would be a meeting of the women's safety ministers task force in November and said, 'One of the most important things that will be addressed at that meeting will be the draft of the next national plan to end violence against women and their children.' There are five days left in November. Does the minister still intend to keep her promise?
As Senator McAllister should know—if she doesn't know—obviously getting a group of very busy ministers across the country together sometimes is not able to be delivered within the exact time frame. But I can assure Senator McAllister, everybody in this chamber and everybody listening, the absolute priority of this government is the next national plan, which is in the final stages of its draft. The draft will be consulted through the appropriate mechanisms, which are the advisory group, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander council, victim-survivor groups and the women's safety ministers task force, which is made up of women's safety ministers across the whole of the country. We'll meet all of the necessary targets and timelines so that it is in place, along with the action plans and implementation plans, to meet the timeline for the next national plan and associated plans to commence on 1 July 2022, when the existing plan expires.
How can Australians believe that the Morrison-Joyce government will deliver any of its promises on domestic violence when it has failed to deliver on its past promises, leaving Australian women more vulnerable as a result?
I'm not going to take that kind of ridiculous statement from those on the other side. This government has invested more than any other government in keeping Australian women safe, with $1.1 billion as a down payment on the national plan, off the back of $340 million on the fourth action plan. I'd like to ask the chamber: does anybody know how much money the Labor Party put against the first action plan of the 12-year plan put in place with bipartisan support by Julia Gillard, who was Prime Minister at the time? Absolutely nothing. Not one cent was invested in the first action plan by those opposite. They come in here when we have made absolute commitment—and I will continue to reiterate to the Australian women who need the support that this government is totally committed to doing two things: we are committed to listening to you and we are committed to delivering for you. That is not something that anybody on that side has any credibility on.
My question is also to the Minister for Women's Safety, Senator Ruston. Noting that today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, can the minister outline to the Senate the Liberal and National government's commitment to addressing this critical issue?
I thank Senator Askew for her question and her ongoing interest and advocacy on this particular issue. Today it is really important that we reflect on and acknowledge the absolute blight that family, sexual and domestic violence is on our nation. One in four Australian women experience sexual violence. One in six Australian women experience physical violence at the hands of a partner after reaching the age of 15.The lifetime impact of that family, sexual and domestic violence is absolutely devastating on survivors. That is why we made the largest ever commitment to supporting Australian women with our $1.1 billion investment in the 2021-22 budget.
Whilst those on the other side will seek to play politics with this and claim that we are not interested in addressing this issue, what I would say is: look at our track record. We are addressing this issue and we will continue to do so. Just last month we rolled out the $164 million escaping violence payment—a program which was the first of its kind on a national scale—to provide women who make that extraordinarily brave decision to leave a violent relationship with $5,000 of support to make sure that they've got a platform on which to build a new life for themselves and their children. We've already heard a number of really positive stories about women who have accessed that support.
We have also hosted the first ever national women's safety summit. We will continue to make sure that we provide the resources, in all areas of responsibility, whether it be leadership, prevention, early intervention—most particularly providing that $260 million in the national partnership agreement, providing safe places so women have somewhere to go, making that sure we can keep women safe in their homes when it is safe to do so. I want to say to every single Australian: we are listening to you and we are acting.
As policymakers, we must not just listen; we must recognise and we must include the voices and the wishes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls and empower them to develop and deliver programs for their own communities. That's why today we announced the $2.8 million to deliver the final stages of Commissioner June Oscar's Women's Voices project and to start the process of drafting a dedicated action plan to provide real and tangible results on the ground for the First Nations women under the next national plan. This will include a summit that will be chaired by Commissioner Oscar. The summit will focus on women's leadership within Indigenous communities and decision-making, as well as deliver on the extraordinarily important issue of family, domestic and sexual violence within those communities. On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women it's important, not just as a government but as a country, that we reaffirm our commitment to Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander women and girls.
(—) (): Any violence against women and children is everybody's business. If we really are going to end violence against women and their children, and all members of our community, we must give people the tools and the education to understand how their behaviours and their words impact on other people, and we must start a conversation nationally about respectful behaviours and around consent. That's why we have announced that we are investing an additional $21 million to extend our hugely successful Stop it at the Start campaign. This campaign gives people the tools and the confidence to call out disrespectful behaviours and attitudes. Evaluation research has shown that, encouragingly, we've seen some positive results within the community, with more than two-thirds of Australians recognising this campaign and 73 per cent of people saying that they were inspired to act and call out disrespect. We must make sure every Australian knows how to do that and does it. (Time expired)