As the Prime Minister meets with his state and territory counterparts to discuss Australia’s family violence crisis tomorrow, his government needs to start demonstrating that tackling the scourge of family violence is truly a national priority.
It’s not enough to simply say that family violence is a priority – we need to see action and results.
The Turnbull Government needs to recognise its harsh budget cuts are hindering, not helping, the effort to eliminate family violence from our communities.
These cuts include:
- $35 million from Community Legal Centres, which provide frontline support services to domestic violence victims.
- $88 million from the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness – ignoring the reality that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness.
- Cuts to the national Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.
The Government also needs to start doing much better when it comes to implementing its responses to family violence.
Six months ago the Government finally agreed to consider the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to reform law processes so that perpetrators of family violence could not personally cross-examine their victims. However, we haven’t seen any action since then.
Last year the Government announced it would spend $12 million on trialling the use of innovative technology to keep women safe. From that money, only $180,000 has been delivered so far.
Last year the Government also announced it would spend $5 million to expand 1800 RESPECT. But that money never reached the telephone counselling provider – instead it has been spent on diverting victims away from telephone counselling.
Earlier this year a Senate Inquiry and the COAG Advisory Panel recommended that the Government criminalise so-called revenge porn, but no commitment has been made.
The Government committed to spending $5 million on safe smart phones and related resources – but after six months, only half that amount had been provided to Women’s Services Network (WESNET) for that purpose.
And almost six months passed between the Government’s commitment to spending $15 million on establishing specialised domestic violence support units, and the first of those new units beginning to operate.
During the election campaign, George Brandis announced an additional $30 million for legal services, and Michaelia Cash announced an additional $15 million for domestic violence frontline services. But as yet no-one knows how or when that additional funding will be delivered.
The Minister for Women has claimed that paid domestic violence leave would mean fewer jobs for women. As Minister for Employment, she has presided over public service bargaining which sought to strip domestic violence leave from public sector agreements.
The Government has also failed to provide bipartisan support for Labor’s call for domestic violence leave to be a universal workplace right.
Finally, the annual progress report for the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children is three months overdue – with no indication as to when it will be published.
Labor agrees that family violence prevention is national priority. It’s time for the Turnbull Government to demonstrate this, not just say it.