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Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Page: 9625

Domestic and Family Violence


Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:19): My question is also to the Minister for Employment and the Minister for Women, Senator Cash. Can the minister please update the Senate on how the Turnbull government is working to tackle the scourge of domestic violence in our community?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:19): I thank Senator Reynolds for her question and for her commitment to gender equality and reducing violence against women and children. This morning many of us, from all sides of politics, had the opportunity to attend the annual White Ribbon Day breakfast, and we recommitted ourselves to doing all that we can to end violence against women and children.

The Turnbull government is determined to ensure that women and children in Australia are safe at home, safe on the streets and safe online. We're investing in programs that directly support women and children who are victims of or at risk of domestic violence. The first act of the Turnbull government in September 2015 was to announce a $100 million Women's Safety Package. This funding provided improved training for frontline workers and enhanced service delivery in critical areas. We continue to improve frontline services by training police, health workers and other frontline service providers to help them recognise the signs of domestic violence and respond accordingly. More funding for specialist domestic violence units will help provide essential services for women and children escaping domestic violence. In the 2017-18 budget, the Turnbull government committed an additional $39 million over the next three years for community legal centres, family law and domestic violence matters. We also provided $3.4 million over two years to expand specialist domestic violence units to provide essential trauma services to women who are experiencing or are at risk of domestic violence. The recipients of this funding were recently announced by the Attorney-General. Again, we are committed to combatting the devastating effects that domestic violence has in our community.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Reynolds, a supplementary question?



Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:21): I thank the minister for her response and I also commend the government for the actions that they are taking.

Senator Sterle interjecting

Senator REYNOLDS: You might not find this a very important issue, Senator Sterle, but I do.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Reynolds, please continue your question.

Senator REYNOLDS: That's just disgraceful.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Sterle! Senator Reynolds, please continue your question.

Senator REYNOLDS: Can the minister please outline what the government is doing to target the behaviour that often leads to domestic violence?







Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:22): As the Prime Minister again reiterated this morning, not all disrespect of women ends up in domestic violence, but all domestic violence begins with disrespect. It is unacceptable that three in 10 Australian women will experience physical violence; one in five sexual violence; and approximately one in four will experience violence from an intimate partner in their life. The Turnbull government is leading the cultural change to take domestic violence out of the shadows. Senators will be aware that last year, along with the states and territories, we launched a $30 million national campaign to change young people's attitudes to women and violence. The 'Stop It At The Start' campaign has run at various points in 2016 and 2017, and I'm pleased to advise that there have been more than 42 million online views of the TV ad. Again, it is crucial that all Australians work towards stopping domestic violence.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Reynolds, a final supplementary question?



Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:23): Why is it important for employers to ensure that sexual harassment is not tolerated in the workplace?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:23): Senators will be aware that recently a number of allegations have come to light of misconduct, harassment and assault in the media, entertainment and arts industries. These serious allegations are deeply concerning. When power or authority is used by a man or a woman to physically harm, sexually assault or sexually harass another person, it is plain wrong and it needs to be called out for what it is.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that inappropriate behaviour by men in positions of power towards women does not happen. Employers must ensure that they have processes in place so that allegations can be properly addressed and women are protected. The government encourages all employers to take their responsibility seriously to ensure that our workplaces are safe for all staff and that inappropriate behaviour has no place.