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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6424

Mrs MIRABELLA (11:47 AM) —I would like to ask some questions of the minister about the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Children. Given that the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children has delivered its Time for action report, can you provide an indication of how much the process of forming the council and developing the plan has cost so far? What will the ongoing role of the council be? How much is its operation expected to cost?

The Prime Minister’s announcement on 29 April was that some $41.5 million would be spent to progress 18 of the 20 priority recommendations of the report; however, the budget papers show that no new funding has been allocated. In fact, the budget papers state:

The Government will redirect funding of $55.2 million over four years from the Women’s Safety Agenda program …

So far we are right in assuming that the Rudd government is making no additional commitment at all to addressing the problem of violence against women. Can you confirm that? In monetary terms there is not one cent of new funding being provided. Isn’t that correct?

Just on the women’s safety agenda, can you please outline exactly what has happened with the projects underway under the program? For example, what has happened with the helpline 24-hour counselling and referral service, the men’s line 24-hour counselling service, the Australia Says No advertising campaign, the curriculum resource on respectful relationships for years 11 and 12 students, the justice practitioners training program, and the Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Initiative which provided community grants for research and pilot projects? Can you also outline whether the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse and the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault had their contracts extended to help provide important research?

Wouldn’t the Australian public be right in assuming that the Rudd government’s rhetoric on violence against women is all symbolic given that the budget papers reveal the Rudd government has committed just $55.2 million over four years to the national action plan, which is some $20 million less than the funding the Howard government was providing over a similar four-year period for the Women’s Safety Agenda? Isn’t the Rudd government’s announced new counselling service, Respectful Relationships, and public education campaign just a rebadging of existing programs that were already working well? Doesn’t this symbolic rebadging cost time and money that could otherwise be spent on practical assistance to women’s suffering from domestic violence?