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Wednesday, 25 November 2015
Page: 8947

Domestic and Family Violence

Senator LINDGREN (Queensland) (14:06): My question is to the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis, representing the Prime Minister. Can the Attorney-General advise the Senate what the government is doing to prevent violence against women?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:06): It is of course a very important question and a very timely question on White Ribbon Day. This is, as all honourable senators know, a very grave problem for Australia. This year already 78 women have been murdered in this country by a current or former partner. Last night, the ABC documentary Hitting Home reported that police around Australia are called to a family violence episode approximately every two minutes. Women and children in Australia have the right to feel safe and live without fear of violence.

In Australia we have a tremendous opportunity to ensure that women are safe at home, safe on the streets and safe online, with Rosie Batty as Australian of the year, the COAG advisory panel on violence against women and the $100 million women's safety package announced by the Prime Minister and Senator Cash on 24 September. That package is in addition to the government's $100 million investment in the second national action plan to reduce violence against women and their children and the $30 million national campaign to reduce violence against women and their children, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the states and territories, which commences early in 2016.

Today the Prime Minister and the Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Christian Porter, released research revealing that adults and young people excuse disrespectful and aggressive behaviour towards women without sometimes even realising it. This research will inform and develop the $30 campaign of which I have spoken. On White Ribbon Day I am sure that each and every member of this chamber is united in their determination to address and, where possible, eliminate this problem.

Senator LINDGREN (Queensland) (14:08): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the Attorney-General please inform the Senate: what else is the government doing to combat family violence?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:08): Yes, I can, Senator Lindgren. This afternoon I will introduce into the Senate the Family Law Amendment (Financial Agreements and Other Measures) Bill 2015, which contains significant new measures to protect women and children from domestic violence. Further, on 28 January this year the former Prime Minister, Mr Abbott, placed family violence on the COAG agenda as a priority issue for COAG, where it remains so that appropriate attention by every Australian government can be paid to the issue. The government will continue to prioritise the development of reforms in this area. And, as I mentioned in my answer to your primary question, Senator Lindgren, in September Mr Turnbull and Senator cash launched the Women's Safety Package, which aims to keep women safer at home, on the streets and online.

Senator LINDGREN (Queensland) (14:09): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Will the Attorney-General please provide the Senate with details of the Women's Safety Package?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:09): Senator Lindgren, I can tell you that the Women's Safety Package includes: $17 million of funding to keep women safer at home by installing safety equipment; $12 million to trial innovative technology such as GPS monitoring and portable panic buttons; $5 million to support the Commonwealth's eSafety Commissioner to develop a resource package and distribute safe phones; $5 million to expand 1800RESPECT, the national telephone and online counselling and information service; $2 million for increased funding for MensLine; $14 million for improved training of front-line staff; $15 million for specialised domestic violence units to provide coordinated legal advice, social work, cultural liaison and hospital outreach; $5 million for local case workers; $21 million for Indigenous specific measures; and $5 million to develop respectful relationship education resources. (Time expired)