Trigger Warning: Discussion of Domestic Violence
If you or anyone you know needs help, click here for a list of family violence support services.
There is no clearer symbol of continuing gender inequality in our society than the epidemic of violence against women.
The biggest risk factor for being a victim of family violence is being a woman. 1 in 3 Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. That’s not good enough; in fact that is a crisis.
The latest research shows:
- 1 in 3 Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15;
- 17 per cent of Australian women have experienced violence by a current or previous partner in their lifetime; and
- 20 per cent of Australian women who have experienced current partner violence reported it to police.
Source: Personal Safety Survey, ABS 2012
Labor calls on the Prime Minister to hold a national crisis summit on family violence with State and Territory Leaders and to openly engage with sector stakeholders to coordinate a national response to family violence.
If not, within the first 100 days of coming to Government, Labor will commission a National Crisis Summit.
A national crisis summit on violence against women is required for the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to agree to urgently implement coordinated judicial and social services reform within their areas of responsibility to better deal with family violence.
A national crisis summit on violence against women is the best way for stakeholders to openly and transparently lay down the key policy challenges for addressing family violence.
Family violence isolates, excludes and traumatises its victims - it disconnects people from community, work, education, friends and family.
So far this year, we’ve seen an average of two deaths a week of women at the hands of their partners or former-partners.
The definitive risk factor for experiencing family violence is being a woman.
In recent years there has been a growth in public awareness and the evidence base for tackling family violence. The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (National Plan) put in place by Labor in office (2010-2022) has driven a range of world leading strategies as well as action by community and for-profit sectors.
Over the past few years, considerable evidence has emerged through the South Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into Domestic and Family Violence, the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland and the Commonwealth Senate Inquiry – Domestic violence in Australia and further evidence is being gathered in the landmark Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence.
The National Crisis Summit seeks to build on this work with a program for clear action - to prioritise, bring forward innovation and better coordination.
And ultimately, to end the ‘postcode lottery’ that results in different outcomes for victims in different locations.
From the Summit, a Federal Labor Government will seek a new deal on coordinated judicial and social services reform to better respond and prevent family violence.
The key policy challenges that Labor will seek to have addressed in a new comprehensive national strategy will include:
1. Ensuring no victim of family violence has to go to court alone to ask for protection for herself and her children.
- Consider additional investments in community legal centres and greater protections for people escaping family violence.
- Embed within support services the diverse needs of victims from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, migrants, refugees and people from a non-English speaking background, people with disability, older women and other vulnerable groups.
2. Building the capacity of the judicial system to deal with family violence.
- Strengthening the way in which the legal system currently operates with respect to family violence, and any implications for legislative and administrative reform;
- Improving training arrangements for state and federal magistrates and judges to better respond to and manage family law and family violence cases; and
- Prioritising the safety of women and children in the court environment, including better court access and support facilities for families in the form of improved court security, child care and support for litigants navigating the system (through the courts and family mediation centres).
- Coordinating best practice approaches to the critical role performed by police in all jurisdictions in responding to family violence and providing immediate support for those affected.
3. Delivering more certainty for homelessness services.
- Family violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children. The Summit will address the increased demand for services, and explore options for more innovation in service delivery to prevent family crises and better link services across the spectrum.
- All jurisdictions must work to ensure women and children escaping family violence have safe and supported emergency accommodation. There is also a need for support for specialist services that assist women in emergency situations.
- Within the context of the National Crisis Summit, this may also involve ensuring that the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) and the National Affordable Housing Agreement recognise increased demand for homelessness and supported housing services resulting from family violence.
4. Enabling women and their children experiencing family violence to remain safely in their current home.
- On average, survivors of family violence are required to move three times, leaving their families, communities, workplaces, schools and support networks.
- Rather than be forced into supported housing we will develop a national Safe at Home program to enable victims to stay in their community, access their support networks and continue to participate in work, training, education and school, through increased access to safety assessments, infrastructure like CCTV, safety alarms, locks, security doors and case management.
- The National Crisis Summit can further explore how being safe at home also links to legislative change, including family violence intervention orders which are currently being made consistent, recognised and effective across jurisdictions as started by Labor in the National Plan.
5. Establishing greater perpetrator accountability mechanisms.
- Long term strategies for interrupting violent behaviours through information sharing, combined with research to increase our knowledge of how perpetrators track through these systems and the effectiveness of risk assessment systems.
- Consistent national standards for behavioural programs, sharing of best practice and continual evaluation of their effectiveness.
- Further, supporting greater understanding and responses to the correlation and impact of alcohol and drug abuse on incidence of family violence is important.
6. Addressing fragmented responses to family violence.
- Develop better measures progress in the response to family violence.
- Mutually recognised and consistent intervention orders.
- Better sharing of best practice and ensure states and territories commit to resourcing death review processes: a mistake that costs a woman or child their life should not be made twice.
- Implementation of continued training for NDIS and other disability and aged care providers. We call on the Government to ensure that resources are dedicated to this through the NDIS Sector Development Fund and appropriate aged care programs.
- Mental health policies and programs for victims and perpetrators.
7. Preventing family violence in the first place through attitudinal change.
- Properly resource the objectives of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Children, including recognition of the National Primary Prevention Framework currently being developed by OurWATCh, Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and VicHealth by mid-2015.
- Continued support for programs in schools, sporting clubs, workplaces and the media that promote respectful relationships and address gender prejudice. This should include programs that go beyond the school gate and engage young people, for example via social media. National standards and better evaluation could assist drive more effective programs.
- Work with the States and Territories develop best practice approaches to prevention and early intervention including through enhancing the immediacy of accountability and intervention orders, engaging men in community conversation and promoting the importance and value of culture in combatting unequal attitudes towards women.
- The development of a national gender equality framework to tackle the key causes of violence against women, build respectful relationships and improve gender equality. Respect between men and women can address the attitudes that support violence. The development of a framework would require a new Federal-State agreement to progress action, with the COAG Select Council on Women’s Issues disbanded in December 2013.