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Prime Minister and premiers hold summit on family violence -

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HAYDEN COOPER, PRESENTER: The scourge of family violence is an Australian tragedy that's being written every single day.

Last year more than 100 women were killed and at least 133,000 experienced violence at the hands of a partner - and they're just the ones who report it.

Today in Brisbane the Prime Minister and state premiers held a summit on what more could be done to prevent violence in the first place and provide better support.

Shortly I will speak with domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty, but first here is our political correspondent, Sabra Lane.

SABRA LANE, PRESENTER: The murder of Luke Batty by his own father after cricket practice in early 2014 galvanised politicians and community leaders to talk about domestic violence, admitting it was a stain on Australia's soul.

A coroner's inquiry found no-one could have foreseen the death of the 11-year-old, but it sparked a royal commission into family violence in Australia and nationally prodded federal and state governments into action. Today they gathered in Brisbane for a summit.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER: If violence against women is trivialised with phrases like "Boys will be boys", or the question is asked: "What did she do to deserve it?," we are complicit.

SABRA LANE: All governments, along with interest groups, are reviewing a report into domestic violence and policies to better help victims and force perpetrators to be more accountable for their behaviour. There's also a strong focus on Indigenous communities.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: It's critical that Indigenous voices inform our policy responses, as we grapple with the shocking reality that Indigenous women are 34 times more likely to be impacted by family violence.

MOO BAULCH, CEO, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE NSW: I think we've neglected this for a long time. And I think there is also the tendency to talk about it a lot: to acknowledge some of the horrific statistics in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but also to put it in the "too-hard" basket.

SABRA LANE: When Mr Turnbull became Prime Minister, he described domestic violence as a "national disgrace". Today he admitted the task is mountain-high, because it's been ignored for too long.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We have not paid the attention to this issue that we should have in years past. That's the truth.

MICHAEL COSTIGAN, CEO, TARA COSTIGAN FOUNDATION: Family violence to me was just this thing on the TV that I could switch off before. And now I can't.

SABRA LANE: Domestic violence has ripped Michael Costigan's family apart. He says change has to happen to stop more lives being lost.

Last year his niece Tara was brutally murdered by her partner, just a week after she'd given birth to their daughter.

MICHAEL COSTIGAN: Every time I trigger my phone, there is a picture of Tara and her three kids, immediately after she'd been given birth. And so that's my motivation.

Nothing can bring Tara back. I'm doing this so that your children can avoid what happened to Tara and what is happening to our family.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We are gathered here today for you.

SABRA LANE: He says, while critics might deride the summit as a talk-fest, the fact it is happening is significant.

MICHAEL COSTIGAN: We talk about it. It's... We're not afraid to talk about this stuff. It's a little bit like mental health 20 years ago. Now we're here with family violence.

Now we're talking about it. It's out there: it's OK. And there's lots of people who are clearly here today who are committed to that.

SABRA LANE: The Prime Minister revealed today how $100 million set aside in the May budget will be spent. $20 million will go to prevention programs; $25 million to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; $30 million for front-line legal services and $10 million to respond to so-called "revenge porn" and online abuse.

Millions have already been spent on advertising campaigns.

(Excerpt from domestic violence TV advertisement)

ANNOUNCER (advertisement): Violence against women starts with disrespect.

(Excerpt ends)

SABRA LANE: And that is starting to have an impact, according to one premier:

ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, QLD PREMIER: What that means is: more women are now reporting domestic and family violence.

MIKE BAIRD, NSW PREMIER: We also have to acknowledge that this is a journey. And this is not just: "Let's come here and do this." There is so much more to do.

DANIEL ANDREWS, VIC PREMIER: There's a fair degree of support for us to continue the discussion around standardised leave in the national employment standards, our courts working better together, child protection working better together.

SABRA LANE: Victoria is leading the push for family violence leave. But the Federal Government hasn't embraced it.

The peak union body, the ACTU, is funding a test case before the Fair Work Commission, saying 10 days' paid leave should be a workplace entitlement. Business groups disagree. A decision will be made next year.

Those at the coalface can't understand why there is any debate.

MOO BAULCH: I think this is a no-brainer. I think it's a really simple way of actually going forward and saying, "We prioritise this:" you know, not just in the service system, not just in terms of talking about long-term prevention and early intervention responses, but within our workplaces we have a real opportunity to send out a very clear message.

SABRA LANE: Legal support groups are also pushing to ban perpetrators from cross-examining victims in court, saying governments need to set aside millions more to ensure legal representation for all sides.


JOANNA FLETCHER, CEO, WOMEN'S LEGAL SERVICE VICTORIA: It's such a problem because of how traumatising it is for a victim to have to face her perpetrator. It's also a problem because it enables perpetrators to actually continue abuse, rather than intervening.

And finally, one of the really crucial issues to understand is that it can really compromise the evidence a victim of violence is able to provide under those circumstances.

SABRA LANE: The campaigning trio is adamant change can't come quickly enough and, from the Prime Minister down, leaders insist there is political will.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I believe there is a complete unity ticket across politics and across jurisdictions on this.

And I... I think this issue is beyond politics, frankly.

Sabra Lane reporting.