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Turnbull Commits $100 Million to Stop Domestic Violence

24 September 2015 at 12:31 pm
Ellie Cooper
Malcolm Turnbull has promised more than $100 million for domestic violence prevention services in his first policy commitment since becoming Prime Minister.

Ellie Cooper | 24 September 2015 at 12:31 pm


Turnbull Commits $100 Million to Stop Domestic Violence
24 September 2015 at 12:31 pm

Malcolm Turnbull has promised more than $100 million for domestic violence prevention services in his first policy commitment since becoming Prime Minister.

Turnbull made the pledge alongside Australian of the Year and domestic violence advocate, Rosie Batty, Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, and Former Victorian police commissioner, Ken Lay in Melbourne today.

The move is seen as a backflip for the Coalition Government, which only provided $16.7 million over three years to fund the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Domestic Violence Advisory Panel in the 2015 Budget but is in line with Turnbull’s new direction which saw him double the number of women in his new cabinet.

Announcing the policy, Turnbull said that domestic violence was a “cultural problem” that started with disrespect for women.

“Disrespecting women does not always result in violence against women, but all violence against women begins with disrespecting women,” Turnbull said.

“We as leaders of government must make it, and we will make it, a clear national objective of ours to ensure Australia is more respecting of women, women must be respected.

“Disrespecting women is unacceptable, it is unacceptable at every level – at home, at the workplace, wherever.”

Domestic violence advocate Rosie Batty, who was brought to tears by the announcement, praised the government’s commitment to combatting domestic violence, as well as the work of fellow campaigners.   

“I’m really very emotional, I’ve worked really hard this year. I’ve spoken at over 250 events, and reached over 50,000 people, trying to get this message across of how serious family violence is in our society,” Batty said.

“There has been thousands of people through decades working so hard to get to this point, where we accept and acknowledge this is a gender issue.

“We have two women a week being murdered, one in three women affected by violence, and one in four children.”

Batty said Australia’s leaders were “not just talking the talk, but now starting to walk the walk”.

“We finally are starting to hear from the leaders of our country that they are addressing this issue, that they recognise the responsibility they have to lead our society, our communities by speaking the language we need to hear,” Batty said.

“It is very moving, we have still a long way to go, but by recognising the gender issue that exists, by the Prime Minister stating that we need to respect and value the contribution of women as equals, and that we have a vision of an Australia that is proud of respecting women, that sends the message far and wide.”

Malcolm Turnbull said that he planned to lead a cultural shift in Australia that will see the country become a leader in respect for women.  

“The vast majority of men do respect women, but many do not and we have to make it as thought it was un-Australian to disrespect women,” he said.

“We must become a country which is known for its respect for women and be proud that we respect women. That is a vital objective that I am determined to ensure my government shows the leadership to be a nation that respects women.

“There is a lot of work to be done, respect is critical. Respect is absolutely critical.”

Minister for Women Michaelia Cash said that the $100 million women’s safety package showed the government places gender equality and domestic violence absolutely at the very forefront of its agenda.

“The commitment of this government, as the Prime Minister said, is that all women in Australia and their children should be safe at home, should be safe on the streets and should be safe online,” Cash said.  

“Whilst there are any women and children in Australia who are not safe, we have not achieved our objective.

Cash said the package was split into several target areas, the first of which focussed on keeping women and children safe at home.

“At the end of the day, the more we can keep women and children safe in their own home where they should be, it means the less we’re going to be putting additional pressures on services including refuges,” she said.

Successful initiatives, including the Safer at Home program, would receive $17 million funding to expand access to CCTV and panic button systems. The Government will also work with the states to trail GPS tracking for perpetrators.

Programs providing women with access to technology would be expanded by up to 20,000 mobile phones.

Cash said the Men’s Line would also receive $2 million in funding.

The second part of the package, which Cash said was informed by Rosie Batty, is focussed on better training for front line services.

“People often forget the first person a woman goes to when she leaves a relationship or when she is in fear of her safety could be a doctor, could be a nurse, it could be the police,” Cash said.

“We need to ensure when women come into contact with these people, they have the training they need to properly respond to that situation.

“We’re also looking at women who do go to services are provided with a holistic approach. We don’t want women having to travel between different services, telling their story 10 times.”

Cash mentioned the murder of 24 year-old Queensland woman, Tara Brown, who was turned away by police and said “it highlights the need for our frontline services to be better trained”.

The final part of the package addresses the issue of respect of women and the need for a cultural change. Cash welcomed the Curriculum Council announcement that by no later than 2017 respectful relationships programs will be embedded in the national curriculum from kindergarten to Year 10.

“If you are not tackling the root cause of this problem, which is gender inequality and respect for women, we will keep having this problem. Part of our package is ensuring that the Safer Schools website is properly resourced,” she said.

“When it comes to the attitudes of our young boys in particular… it’s absolutely devastating that up to 25 per cent of young people think it’s ok that you can slap a woman if you’ve been drinking.

“They also think that hitting a women is just a sign of male strength. That is the size of the problem we are facing so we are making a $5 million investment to expand Safer School website.”

Chair of the COAG Advisory Panel on Domestic Violence and former Victorian police commissioner, Ken Lay, said while the commitment was a watershed moment for Australia there was still a long way to go.

“I don’t think anything has been quite so powerful as when we have the Prime Minister of our county and one of his Ministers stand up here and speak beautifully and eloquently about the drivers of family violence. This is the opportunity to change a culture,” Lay said.

“I don’t think any of us will be surprised, whether it’s in the next day or two days or next week, we will see another example of a woman losing her life as a result of family violence. So whilst today is a great step forward there is still so, so much more work to be done.”

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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