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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6425


Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (11:50 AM) —I thank the member for Indi for her question. Like her, I have a very personal desire to see a reduction in violence against women. I know my colleague the Minister for the Status of Women likewise has such a personal desire, not only from her ministerial responsibilities but from a long and very personal commitment to seeing a reduction in violence against women. When she became the Minister for the Status of Women, she immediately established this new national council. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children, who were responsible for developing the plan to combat violence against women. I know all of them came to this task with a very personal commitment to add to the government’s efforts on this very difficult issue.

As I previously mentioned in response to questions from the member for Petrie about homelessness, this government is not just addressing the concerns about violence against women through the specific initiatives in this area of women’s programs. There is a very significant additional commitment of $800 million going into the critical area of addressing homelessness in this country. One of the facts, difficult though it is for all of us to confront, is that one of the largest groups who are homeless on any one night is women and children escaping domestic violence. I know the member for Indi would be as concerned as any other member of this House to make sure that we do everything to improve the chances of those women and children who have to flee violence to find a safe place to go and to have somewhere where they can get back on their feet.

That is why it is so important that those women and children also have the opportunity to get a place to live. This government is doing so much more than has ever been done in the past with its massive expansion of social housing. The $6.4 billion that is going into social housing will mean that those women escaping domestic violence with their children, after they have been able to find the safety of a women’s refuge, will get services as part of the increased homelessness services this government is providing. They will also have a greater chance of finding a home because this government is responsible for building around 20,000 new units of social housing.

I think it is important for the member for Indi to recognise, and this is an area that I think all of us are committed to improving, that the government is not taking just one avenue to address this critical area of violence against women. We are determined to run the programs that are in the women’s area and also to substantially increase the services for those who find themselves homeless—including, unfortunately, large numbers of women and children—and to make sure, through our social housing reforms, that they have a place to go to once they have their lives back together again. The way the Minister for the Status of Women is going about this task is, I think, so important for women and children. I give my wholehearted support to everything that she is doing.

In my own areas of responsibility we also have an enormous effort going into supporting Indigenous women and children who find themselves subject to violence, and those programs are being strengthened, particularly in the Northern Territory where we have, for the next three years, added extra money to make sure that both child protection and services to women continue.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Human Services Portfolio

Proposed expenditure, $4,081,284,000