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Short consultation period for national violence against women plan slammed

17 January 2022 at 5:05 pm
Luke Michael
“This speaks volumes about the seriousness with which the government is taking this issue”  

Luke Michael | 17 January 2022 at 5:05 pm


Short consultation period for national violence against women plan slammed
17 January 2022 at 5:05 pm

“This speaks volumes about the seriousness with which the government is taking this issue”  

The federal government is facing criticism over the short consultation period for its draft national plan to end violence against women and children, with fears there is not enough time for those affected by violence to meaningfully respond.

The plan – which sets out the nation’s priorities and targets to end violence against women and children over the next decade – was released on Friday, and is open to feedback until 31 January. 

But a petition signed by community leaders and influential Australians including Lucy Turnbull AO and Jane Caro is calling for this timeframe to be extended to a minimum of six weeks, taking the end date to 28 February.   

A statement on the petition website notes many people will struggle to respond before the end of January, considering the difficulties of the pandemic and the fact it is currently school holidays.

“The government have taken nine months to prepare the Draft National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032, a 10 year plan,” the statement says. 

“They announced the National Summit on Women’s Safety in April and it was held in September 2021. Yet the consultation period is only two weeks long. 

“This speaks volumes about the seriousness with which the government is taking this issue. By comparison, a home reno regularly takes four weeks consultation.”

The petition was shared on Twitter by prominent women’s safety advocate Brittany Higgins, who labelled the short consultation period “breathtakingly disrespectful”, while Australian of the Year Grace Tame was also critical.

Tame said on Twitter it was a perfect example of the government’s “consistent approach to dire issues”.

“I’m tired of being told we shouldn’t complain because ‘at least they’re making a plan’. Rubbish,” she said.

“Dig deeper and there’s nothing there. No genuine commitment, no legitimate action, just hollow words.”

Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston defended the timing of the consultation.

She said the plan was the result of 18 months of “extensive, detailed and thorough consultation” with victim-survivors, advocates, sector representatives and other key stakeholders.

“The Women’s Safety Taskforce of all governments agreed to provide two weeks for the public to have one last opportunity to provide comments and feedback before the National Plan is finalised as we continue our important work in ending gendered violence.

“As we have said throughout this 18-month process we are open to considering all feedback and I am happy to discuss this issue with my state and territory counterparts.”

Sector leaders say plan offers ‘significant progress’ 

While the short consultation period has been criticised, there has been some praise for the contents of the draft plan. 

Stella Avramopoulos, the CEO of Good Shepherd – a charity providing family and domestic violence services and support – welcomed the draft plan’s references to establishing a National Family, Domestic & Sexual Violence Commission and its focus on violence prevention.   

Avramopoulos told Pro Bono News it offered “significant progress” on the previous plan, especially given the importance it places on early intervention and recovery. 

She noted economic security was a substantial factor in family violence and the experiences of the pandemic highlighted how many families were financially vulnerable.  

“Any support that prevents families sliding into financial vulnerability will assist in reducing family violence,” Avramopoulos said.

“On the recovery side Good Shepherd sees that the effects of family violence can last a lifetime.

“More support for recovery programs will assist people rebuilding lives but also lessen the likelihood of families having to revert to a previous situation because of financial circumstances.” 

Avramopoulos is cognisant of the criticism over the short consultation timeframe, but believes engagement and feedback with the sector will be ongoing throughout the life of the plan.

She said the plan helped set up a framework for Good Shepherd and other sector partners to work within, with a clear community goal.

“Now we know that the federal government is committed to real change, it’s our job to take our expertise to government so the plan comes to life,” she said.

“We look forward to working closely and regularly with government while we continually generate policy ideas to help.” 

You can see the plan and provide feedback here.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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