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Finance and Public Administration References Committee
05/11/2014
Domestic violence in Australia

ELTRINGHAM, Ms Libby, Community Legal Worker, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria

GEDDES, Ms Virginia, Executive Officer, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria

Committee met at 09:02 .

CHAIR ( Senator Lundy ): Good morning, everybody. This is the fourth hearing of the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee inquiry into domestic violence in Australia. We held a hearing in Sydney yesterday and tomorrow we are in Brisbane. It is a public hearing, so a Hansard transcript will be made of the proceedings. Before the committee starts taking evidence, I would like to remind all witnesses that, in giving evidence to the committee, they are protected by parliamentary privilege and that it is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence being given to a committee. Such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee. We prefer all evidence to be given in public but under the Senate resolutions witnesses can request to give evidence in camera. If you are planning to do that, it is always helpful to give some notice.

I welcome representatives of the Domestic Violence Resource Centre. I know that information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses has been provided to you.

Ms Geddes : I would like to start by thanking the committee for holding this inquiry. It is really important and I think it will provide a lot of information for us to progress this issue in the future.

CHAIR: Do you have any comments to make on the capacity in which you appear?

Ms Eltringham : I also am part of a training team within the organisation and work around policy systemic advocacy on behalf of DVRC for systemic change.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Ms Geddes : Our organisation is a specialist family violence organisation operating in Victoria mainly. Our main role is to educate professionals and resource professionals around working with women and children who have experienced family violence. We also produce materials online and printed, and provide initial support and referral for women who experience violence. We have printed materials, we have several websites, training programs and telephone support, and we also engage in research and systemic advocacy. Some of the recent examples of our research include domestic homicides, parents who kill in the context of separation, safety and technology, and the experiences of women with disabilities and their experiences of violence. We see ourselves as having a role in translating evidence into practice, policy and advocacy.

One of the areas that we would like to focus on today is the importance to the common understanding of the underlying causes and dynamics of family violence and violence against women more generally, and the role of training professionals in that. Quite a few of the recommendations in our submission are going to be discussed in detail by other organisations that are appearing before the inquiry today. So we might leave those organisations to expand on those more fully, while we focus on some of the issues around training and a common understanding.

We are the major provider of professional education on family violence in Victoria. The participants in our training programs include family violence specialists, health workers, court workers, housing and maternal and child health nurses. We also do general training on our half-yearly calendar, but we also do customised training for particular professional groups to suit their needs. What we try to do in our training is to ensure that the responses to family violence are evidence based and informed by an understanding of the causes and dynamics of the violence.

Our work is informed by the VicHealth framework, as is the work of many other organisations, which identifies gender, inequality and rigid adherence to gender stereotypes, and unequal power relations between men and women as the underlying causes of the violence.

We see our responses to the violence situated on a continuum from primary prevention to early intervention to crisis responses and then to looking at what we can learn from the inquiries into family violence deaths. We have provided you with a diagram today that we would like to speak to after our initial introductory remarks.

What we are now seeing is a heightened community awareness of violence against women and a community calling for action. What we need to ensure is that the action is informed by the evidence base we have and really linked to our understanding of what is causing violence against women. Whether you are a teacher discussing respectful relationships in school, a maternal and child health nurse noticing that a woman seems uncomfortable with her partner, a telephone counsellor receiving a call from a woman who is seeking help, someone doing risk assessment, a worker at a refuge where a woman stays, a solicitor who assists with the Family Court matters or a Family Court judge who is making decisions on child access matters—everyone needs to understand those underlying causes and the dynamics and social context in which that woman is experiencing violence; that includes the community attitudes that impact on her decision to seek help, to stay or leave. The same applies to those engaged in making policy and writing legislation—our political leaders.

You are probably familiar with the recent national community attitudes survey, which was released in September. There were some positives in that survey—namely; there is a better recognition of the different forms of violence against women. Fewer people think violence against women can be justified and fewer people think women should stay with a violent partner in order to keep the family together.

But there are also a number of concerns: most people see violence against women as a result of men not being able to control their anger and more than half the people surveyed thought that women fabricate cases of domestic violence in order to improve their prospects in the Family Court. Two in five believe that many times women who say they were raped led the man on and later had regrets. So, while we have a better understanding of violence and a higher awareness, there is not really a widespread understanding of the causes. Those community attitudes reflect that.

There are a few other concerns in that survey in terms of our focus on the prevention of violence against women. There has been a decrease in the understanding that women are at greater risk of physical or sexual assault by someone they know rather than by a stranger. Since 1995 there has been a decrease in people who agree that violence is primarily perpetrated by men and, alarmingly, 28 per cent of the people recently surveyed endorsed attitudes supportive of male dominance in decision-making and relationships. We believe these survey results indicate that, although there is a high level of awareness that violence is happening and an intolerance to the violence, people really do not understand the links between that violence and sexist attitudes and rigid gender stereotypes. There is a lot of work to do to make that link and that is the next challenge in this area of work; I think the government can play quite a role in this.

Ms Eltringham : What I would like to do is speak to the diagram and talk you about where it has come from and how it helps inform our thinking about opportunities for improving responses across the continuum of violence, or the continuum of response opportunities. As Virginia said, violence against women is an expression of attitudes that support gender inequality and which are manifested across this continuum, from violence-supportive attitudes to acts of violence.

With that in mind, DVRC recently developed prevention training to take her to community groups with No To Violence, who are appearing later before the committee. The training encourages participants to think about where they could step or how they could operate to help prevent violence against women. We developed the continuum as a way of trying to help people make sense of where they sit on that continuum in terms of their efforts to make change. We talked about prevention in terms of potential response opportunities from primary prevention. You will see that on the diagram, from local government gender-equity policies to respectful relationships education; looking at gender quotas, thinking about gender audits of organisations and addressing gender-equity barriers. There are a range of primary prevention opportunities; that is by no means a full list. But it is a way of starting to think about whether you are there in the work that you are doing, or whether you are starting to work in the area of early intervention, where we might be looking at anti-sexism bystander intervention.

There is primary prevention, early intervention, crisis responses and then there are death reviews. You would have been hearing about the inquest into Luke Batty's death over the past couple of weeks in Victoria, in the coroner's court. We really believe such inquests are one of the possibilities for creating responses that can help to change what is happening for women and children around family violence.

The continuum provides us with a bit of a map for our work. It is not the only way of describing this, but we have found it helpful in working with people from a range of settings, in thinking about how we locate ourselves and what we need to do before we step into any of those spaces to do the work we want to do. It also reminds us to talk about what violence against women is, its prevalence and what it looks like, if we are going to do safe and effective prevention work—including primary prevention work—in our communities. I talked about a couple of the primary prevention possibilities. Starting at the other end, we can learn from death reviews and death review work concerning women who have been murdered by current or former partners; or, where children have been murdered, we can learn about issues around filicide. What can we learn from death reviews? We can learn about risk assessment. In terms of crisis responses, how do we actually do effective risk assessment work? What needs to inform our thinking when we are developing local and state-wide public education efforts to support family members, friends and colleagues to safely take action?

We have just talked about some of the publications and the work that DVRC has done. We have a family and friends brochure, booklet and card that help family and friends to know what they might do and how they might step in. More appropriate media reporting starts to look at that early intervention space and says, 'Well, how do you actually get media reporting on the nature and dynamics of family violence effectively?'

Some of those others you can see on the continuum. What we try to do in all of our work at DVRC that is described in this continuum map is to say to participants—all of our training participants—that we have to start from a place of having a shared understanding to do safe and effective prevention work. We can talk about some examples where, if you do not have that shared understanding, what you are doing may be actually doing more harm than good or you may be stepping into a space that is not safe for the person who may be experiencing violence.

Developing that shared understanding means we need to understand a definition: what is family violence and what does it look like? We need a shared understanding and definition. Through Victoria's legislation, the Family Violence Protection Act helps to provide a platform for everyone working in Victoria, for example, to work from the same space; to say: 'We all have a piece of legislation that tells us what it looks like.' We have a preamble in that act that says it is about gender, power and control—it is about coercive control. So we have something that actually spells it out in legislation in Victoria.

Certainly, the Australian Law Reform Commission and the New South Wales Law Reform Commission in their report Family violence: a national legal response from 2010 talked about the need for a common interpretive framework. So that need for having shared understandings around what it looks like appears in a range of settings. You would have heard, probably from VicHealth and from Our Watch, I think, about a similar drive to build that shared understanding. We are trying to do it through our training. We think and we argue—and we work with our participants in training to say this—that in order to really understand, or develop that shared understanding, we need to understand prevalence. We need to understand how family violence presents in the community, how often it occurs, who it happens to and how many people are affected by it. What are the numbers? What is the raw data?

Again, in Victoria, we have police data coming out that there are increasing reports. There are increasing numbers of intervention order applications. It is escalating. In terms of reports, they are constantly climbing. We can talk about why a bit later. But we need to know that that is what it looks like. So when someone says, 'But aren't women as violent as men', we are able to say: 'Hang on; let's have look at the stats. Let's have a look at what the evidence says about the nature and prevalence of domestic violence.' So we built that shared understanding around that.

We also need to build the shared understanding around impact: how does it affect victims? How is it affecting the community? How is it playing out? And then the most important one, of course, is the causes. How do we build the shared understanding around causes? In order to prevent family violence we need to know why it occurs, and certainly VicHealth's work has really helped us to think about how we frame some of that, so the rigid gender roles and gender inequity in our community.

Understanding tactics, understanding how violence is played out in a one-to-one relationship or by a perpetrator with a family or in a broader family setting. What are the tactics? What are the issues, the behaviours that are actually designed to maintain some sort of control? One of the things we use in this training—I just find it really helpful to think about this—is Ellen Pence from the US talking on a video, and we use it all the time in our training now, and she says: 'I used to think that it was about men wanting power and control, and then I just realised that it really was not about that. It was about them feeling entitled to it.' So we talk about that sense of entitlement in the tactics that get used to maintain power and control—it is the entitlement to power and control, the entitlement to feel, 'I'm here, I'm the one in the family who gets things done around me so that I maintain some power of control.'

We think building the shared understanding includes also understanding barriers to talking about violence. To interrupt the whole pattern of family violence we have to understand what stops women leaving violent partners, what stops them talking about it. What barriers stop us from taking action? What stops us from actually stepping in and taking some responsibility as a broader community, as extended family members, if we see that something is happening? We are building the shared understanding through this range of unpacking, I guess: some of the evidence, some of the legislation, some of the definitional stuff, but also getting a little bit deeper into what it looks like and how it plays out.

We also really try to work with participants in our training to think about the barriers to taking action and to really get us to address our own beliefs about causes and dynamics of violence, so we can 'fess up about how we might collude or how we might avoid taking action when we see something that concerns us and stepping into that bystander, early intervention space on our continuum. Increasingly importantly, there is the issue of understanding risk, understanding what it is that constitutes risky situations in families or for women and children who may be living with that level of family violence, where we were able to see—we become more literate around the idea of risk. What is it that we are seeing, and when should we be starting to think about taking some action to preserve life and safety? There is a whole range of things that work around that building of the shared understanding, but we think it is essential too.

CHAIR: We need to save some time for questions, Ms Eltringham.

Ms Eltringham : Just finishing now. We think we can address all of those things through training. We think the community awareness campaigns can start the conversation, but for meaningful engagement and to really influence change we need time to engage with a complex and challenging reality by investing in training across professional groups and settings.

CHAIR: You talk about building a shared understanding. In your frank assessment, how close are you to building a consensus about what that shared understanding is about the data, the impact, the causes and the tactics involved in domestic violence? Are we still a little way away? What is that dynamic?

Ms Geddes : I think we can comment on Victoria. Some important things that have happened here include the definition of 'family violence' in the Family Violence Protection Act. That is now commonly used by practitioners across the board. The VicHealth framework has provided us with a shared understanding of the underlying of causes of violence against women. I cannot really comment so much on what is happening outside Victoria, but my observation is that in Victoria it has been very strong, building a shared understanding among people working in that field, but the next step is to get the next layer out The specialists understand that really well. Now we have to move into, say, the legal profession, health workers, to build the shared understanding and further out from the core group of people who have been doing the work.

Senator RICE: Do you have some ideas about the training or interventions to reaching out beyond the professionals?

Ms Geddes : One of the things is generally the evidence seems to be that working in primary prevention work with young people is a key area. There has been quite a lot of evidence to suggest that some of the work done on respectful relationships programs around the world is effective. That would be something, getting people's attitudes really early to build those respectful relationships and to change ideas about gender. That is one. I think in Victoria the EVAs, the Elimination of Violence Against Women media awards, have been quite important in shifting some thinking among journalists, the way they report and think about underlying issues. Anecdotal evidence from journalists in Victoria is that they think the reporting in Victoria is probably better than in other states.

Senator RICE: Are those programs being adequately funded at the moment? How much more funding or resources do you think needs to go into that field?

Ms Geddes : Given the cost to the community, I think we could at least double the resources going into this area, particularly in primary prevention.

Senator WATERS: Hello ladies. My apologies to you for being a few minutes late at the beginning. Thank you for your detailed submission and your remarks so far. I want to pick up on the last point. You make an excellent recommendation about the current review of the national curriculum in that it needs to ensure respectful relationships programs are properly embedded. Do you have any insights about whether that is occurring?

Ms Geddes : I am not sure about that, but I am sure that we need more education for the teachers delivering those programs. What has become clear is that teachers are often not confident about discussing some of those issues with young people and I think it is very important also that they are well trained because if you are talking about power and control and intimate relationships, you are going to get disclosures of abuse. So teachers need to feel confident about that.

Senator WATERS: Is there a program for teachers to receive that training at the minute?

Ms Geddes : No, I think that area needs a lot more work. I understand that Our Watch in Victoria is just starting on the program in some schools in Victoria where teachers will get training, but that is probably needed across the board.

Senator WATERS: Moving to housing, you have made quite a number, in my view, of important and strong recommendations about funding efficiencies, including NRAS, the need for NPAH, the homelessness agreement, to be renewed, and capital spending from government. Can you tell us what feedback you have been getting from your member organisations about the availability of affordable housing in that long term post the crisis response? Is it getting worse, is it still as bad as was or is it better?

Ms Geddes : It is getting worse.

Ms Eltringham : No, I think one of the big barriers to women trying to safely escape violence is one safe and affordable housing. Domestic Violence Victoria probably addressed this issue more substantially in their appearance before the committee but certainly greater investment from the Commonwealth in housing, targeted to addressing family violence, is something in which we would support the call for from Domestic Violence Victoria. The continuity of that, the security of tenure, the NPA is only a year's commitment in advance and there really needs to be much more security of funding and ongoing rolling recurrent funding for organisations to be able to work safely with women. DV Vic probably also talked a bit about the Safe at Home initiatives, and they are working across different states under different names. But that is only effective where other systems are in place to make it possible for women to stay safe. There is always going to be a need for safe crisis housing and then post-crisis housing for women and children—in order to move on with their lives. Women end up living in poverty and trying to remake lives. The cost of getting safe is sometimes that struggle to find safe, affordable housing for themselves and their children.

Senator WATERS: You make a recommendation, No. 26, about an earlier report, the Braaf, Barrett, Meyering paper from 2011 about women's economic independence and security. It talks about the various barriers that women have to economic independence in the first place but particularly after escaping from a violent relationship. Are you aware whether there has been any progress within any level of government to adopt those 2011 recommendations?

Ms Geddes : Not to my knowledge.

Senator WATERS: Why not?

Ms Eltringham : Why is it not happening?

Senator WATERS: Yes. Is anybody justifying why?

Ms Geddes : Political will, maybe?

Senator WATERS: Okay. I am not sure if you are the right folk to ask, but are you able to provide any insights into the experiences of women who are lodging complaints about violence by a former partner against children whilst the children are in the ex-partner's custody and how the system is responding to those needs—the police, other support services?

Ms Eltringham : Could you ask that question again?

Senator WATERS: I am just interested in whether you have insights about the experiences of women who have experienced violence from a former partner who has some custody access to the child and the child is now experiencing violence by the former partner—its father. How is the system responding to that situation? Do you have any experience with women complaining about that and how support services are either assisting or falling short?

Ms Geddes : We are not a direct service organisation so we have not got any direct experience of that.

Senator WATERS: Your members—

Ms Geddes : We could follow that up for you and provide something.

Senator WATERS: Who do you think would be the best folk to ask that question of? Violence Free Families, perhaps?

Ms Geddes : Maybe one of the legal services.

Ms Eltringham : I keep just touching on some of the issues that are related to that in terms of the interrelationship between state family violence services and working within state legislation and the Family Law Act and their relationship then with child protection agencies in each state. The Australian Law Reform Commission, New South Wales Law Reform Commission report contained a huge number of recommendations, and I think it probably provides the best guide to how we get that national legal response around family violence. It would be great to do an audit of that report and see how many of those recommendations have been picked up or are being followed up and how they are actually playing out. I think it is the obvious great gap between family law and family violence at state level. You see it played out over and over again. Again I think it is a good example of where the gaps are, that we do not even use absolutely the same definition in family law and in family violence legislation across different states. We do not use the same risk frameworks. We have a family law risk framework that was developed completely separately from the risk assessment and risk management framework that was developed, for example, in Victoria. That has been in place and DVRC has been working to train over about 6,000 to 7,000 people in Victoria over the last six years, but new frameworks keep coming down through the Commonwealth without necessarily even consultation with states about what they are doing and how they are working with that. The parallel systems are hugely problematic. Short of constitutional change, we are probably not going to change that overnight. But how do we actually build in some requirement for consultation and collaboration across those systems to really make sure that the language, the definitions, the tools, the understandings around risk can start to narrow the gap between some of those?

Senator WATERS: Can you tell me the name of the report that you referred to at the beginning of your contribution?

Ms Eltringham : The ALRC report?

Senator WATERS: The 2010 or the 2012? Was it the first ALRC report or the second?

Ms Eltringham : I am talking about the October 2010 report.

Senator WATERS: Thank you.

Senator BERNARDI: I have a read your submission too. There was something in there—it may have been your report or it may have been one that you have referenced—about the sharing of information. There was specific mention in relation to the White Ribbon Foundation that there was a lack of sharing of information and accountability.

Ms Geddes : I think that is the report that we referred to.

Senator BERNARDI: But it is in your submission.

Ms Geddes : Yes, that is right.

Senator BERNARDI: Do you have any comment on that? What would you like to see more there?

Ms Geddes : White Ribbon does some interesting work in Australia. It seems that in Victoria there has not been a strong collaboration with other organisations doing the same work. Many of the organisations that will be appearing before you today have really strong collaborative networks in terms of consulting with each other, being engaged in developing training together or in campaigns or in lobbying or in responses to issues papers or in organising events. As yet we have not had that kind of relationship with White Ribbon in Victoria.

Senator BERNARDI: This is entirely uninformed, but I wonder whether they see it as their role to communicate with other organisations or whether their role is simply to bring awareness to the issues attached to domestic and family violence.

Ms Geddes : Most of the organisations in Victoria are working together—it is about building common understandings of violence. Also in this work it is important that we do more than build awareness. I think we have a reasonable level of awareness. What we are looking at now is the next step to be able to really articulate the link between gender inequality, and rigid stereotypes about violence, and the violence against women. What we are really looking for now is leadership from men—this would include men in White Ribbon—to be able to stand up publicly and challenge sexism. I think a really good example of that kind of activity would be the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Ken Lay, who regularly makes public statements not just about violence against women and how it is unacceptable; he makes those links between that violence and sexism and gender inequality. That is what we are really looking for now in male leadership.

Senator BERNARDI: I circled three things in the document, under primary prevention, which I had some questions about. Firstly, anti-sexism bystander intervention: I suspect that in the community there is a lack of will for people to get involved in public altercations. People seem to walk past people in distress and pain and things of that nature. Do you see that there is any hesitancy in people to stand up and say, 'No, what you are doing is wrong' in the public space because they do not want to get involved in someone else's problems?

Ms Geddes : Before we answer that I just want to clarify that bystander intervention is not just about taking action when someone is experiencing violence; it is about when you witness statements of sexism and that kind of thing—

Senator BERNARDI: I accept that; thank you for the clarification. Is there a hesitancy for people to get involved in a confrontation that they could walk away from?

Ms Eltringham : I think it goes back to our argument that, in order to know what to do and what to do safely, you need to have that broader understanding. If you witness a situation, for example, where there is some family violence or a relationship incident, we are not necessarily saying that individuals need to step in and take over; however, it is important that you understand what the issues might be for the person—or the woman—experiencing the violence and that there will be some risks if you step in at a particular point. You cannot intervene safely if you are not aware of the impacts and that broader understanding of what this dynamic is.

When we are working with people, we would say: 'There are things that you can do down at the pub when inappropriate jokes and sexist comments are being made. There are things you can say to your mates if they are wolf whistling or there is street harassment happening towards women. You need to be careful about what steps you are taking when you are getting closer to this crisis. It requires good, well-informed understanding of the nature and dynamics and that we perhaps need to call the police or find a way to help that woman become safe in a way that does not put her at further risk.

Just barging in—and our family and friends booklet can help family and friends to think about what they might do. There are things along that continuum in terms of actions: how do we carry out this action safely, effectively and in an informed way that makes a difference to attitudes and helps people become safe?

Senator BERNARDI: As you were speaking, Ms Eltringham, I am reminded of the incident here in Melbourne where a bikie was hitting his girlfriend or acquaintance, and a bystander stood in and was killed as a result of that a few years ago. There are serious consequences in certain circumstances for everyone involved in this.

Ms Eltringham : Knowing what to do and when to call for law enforcement assistance in those situations—that is what we would do if we heard something going on next door. It is not necessarily going to be safe to barge in, but you need to make the call rather than think: 'Well, maybe they're just having another argument. We need to make that call, take action and do it in a way that is informed.

Senator BERNARDI: You have got support in faith communities, and faith communities are a great strength for many people. But there are certain faith communities where there is entrenched gender stereotyping, which you have referred to, where men take on a much stronger role than women. How do you deal with those faith communities where they have a very traditionalist role or perspective?

Ms Geddes : I would not be singling out particular communities; I think it is across the board. You need to work with people within those communities, whichever community it is, to find the leaders who are prepared to work around this issue. I would not say that gender stereotyping is limited to minor communities.

Senator BERNARDI: I did not say that: you are putting words in my mouth. I merely said that within faith communities there are some that have a very different perspective—it is a matter for the public record. How do you deal with that where it is so entrenched?

Ms Geddes : We get the leaders within those communities on side and we work with them. There have been some great examples where leaders of faith communities have started to organise things in their own communities by speaking out and providing good support to women experiencing violence in those communities. You have to get the community leaders on side.

Senator BERNARDI: How is that going?

Ms Geddes : I think there have been some really good results in Victoria.

Ms Eltringham : I think VicHealth again may have some more information about this. One of the pilot projects that they were working on, when they were trialling some prevention activities, included some work with faith communities in Victoria. We also did some training with some faith communities in the outer south-east some time ago, but over a period of time momentum built and things started to change in what was happening within that community. Lots more disclosure started to happen and the community leaders started to see that they needed to get more resources on board, and they needed to inform themselves. So they got a little information and they started to get some more training to help to inform what their next steps might look like. It is about leadership; it is leadership across the board.

Senator BERNARDI: Can you give me your view on gender quotas and where you see they should apply?

Ms Geddes : I think it is one good strategy for getting a focus back on gender equity.

Senator BERNARDI: Can you give me some examples of where you think it should apply?

Ms Geddes : It could apply in committees, sporting clubs, local communities, boards.

Senator BERNARDI: Do you think there should be a legislative response?

Ms Geddes : Maybe it should be different for different settings, but I think it is one thing that some organisations could look at in terms of changing the power balance within their organisations.

Senator BERNARDI: Do you have a specific quota that you think should apply to the number of men and the number of women on particular boards?

Ms Geddes : Fifty-fifty would be quite good to reflect the population. It is just another one of the strategies for thinking about how to build gender equity in our community. It is not necessarily the major one; it is just one of many strategies.

Senator BERNARDI: You do not think there should be a legislative response to it? You do not think the state government should say you have fifty-fifty on your local sporting board or the netball association or the footy club?

Ms Geddes : I am not sure about that actually, but—

Ms Eltringham : It is an aspiration.

Ms Geddes : Yes.

Senator MOORE: I just want to put on record my apologies for being late. I know your work. I have been to see you. There were issues with Qantas leaving Sydney and the extreme danger of my small umbrella to the security of this building, but you are safe because it has been confiscated.

Regarding your work with the alliances and the consultation around the plan, you say the alliances, particularly the safety alliance, is a valuable tool. Do you believe that the alliances have been effectively used in the consultation process around the development of the plan and do you think there could be other ways of doing that in the future?

Ms Geddes : The national plan?

Senator MOORE: Development, evaluation, engagement—all those things.

Ms Geddes : I think there was quite good consultation. What often happens though, when there is consultation on the part of the Commonwealth, is that not all the key players who might have something to say on the issue are included. I am not sure of the networks that the Commonwealth relies on, but sometimes it feels as if there are players that are left out. Other than that, I think it was a good consultation process.

Senator MOORE: Were you invited to the round tables that they had in the development of the second plan?

Ms Geddes : Yes.

Senator RICE: Given we are out time, I will put a question on notice. Given your expertise in training, are there other areas of training that you say key sectors need that are not being provided or funded for at the moment? If you can think of other areas that you have not mentioned in your submission, we would love to hear from you.

Ms Geddes : Outside of this hearing?

Senator RICE: Yes, because we are out of time.

Ms Geddes : Okay.

CHAIR: A follow-up piece of correspondence would be adequate to respond to that. Thank you so much for your time this morning. The committee is greatly appreciative of not only your work but the effort you made with your submission and appearing here this morning.

Ms Geddes : Thank you for inviting us and thank you for your questions.