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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6426

Mrs MIRABELLA (11:57 AM) —Given that the national council has now delivered its report Time for action, can you provide an indication of exactly how much the process of forming the council and developing the plan has cost so far, what the ongoing role of the council will be and how much its operation is expected to cost? The Prime Minister announced on 29 February some $41.5 million 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 that the government will redirect funding of $55.2 million over four years from the Women’s Safety Agenda program. I would like the minister to confirm that we are right in assuming that the Rudd government is making no additional commitment to addressing the problem of violence against women. In other words, could you please confirm that, in monetary terms, not a single cent of new funding is being provided.

On the Women’s Safety Agenda program, could you please outline exactly what has happened with the projects underway under that program. For example, what has happened with the Helpline 24-hour counselling and referral service, the Mensline 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 research initiative, which provided community grants for research and pilot projects?

Could 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, and doesn’t this symbolic rebadging cost time and money that could otherwise be spent on practical assistance to women suffering from domestic violence?