Opposition Leader Bill Shorten - National crisis summit on family violence

The Hon. Bill Shorten: Today, I have written to the to the Prime Minister seeking his bipartisan support to hold a national crisis summit on family violence.
 
Labor has also called on the Prime Minister to support a number of interim measures to ensure women and their children affected by family violence are getting the support they need.
In particular Labor wants to make sure women are getting the legal support they need - irrespective of where they live - and that they have somewhere safe to go.
 
There is no clearer symbol of continuing gender inequality in our society than the epidemic of violence against women. The biggest risk factor for being a victim of family violence is being a woman.
 
The latest research shows:
 
  • 1 in 3 Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15;

  • 17 per cent of Australian women have experienced violence by a current or previous partner in their lifetime; and

  • 20 per cent of Australian women who have experienced current partner violence reported it to police.

     

[ANROWS; Personal Safety Survey, ABS 2012] 
 
A national crisis summit on family violence is required for the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to agree to urgently implement coordinated judicial and social services reform within their areas of responsibility to better deal with family violence.
 
A national crisis summit on family violence is the best way for stakeholders to openly and transparently lay down the key policy challenges for addressing family violence.
 
In the meantime, we have a responsibility to ensure women can get the legal support they need, irrespective of where they live.
 
We have a responsibility to ensure women have somewhere safe to go if they’re being abused – whether that is their own home, or somewhere else.
 
The nightmare of family violence is a reality for far too many Australian women. No-one should have to face this ordeal on their own.
 
Labor’s interim measures will deliver more than $70 million over three years in targeted funding to ensure those suffering from family violence can access critical services when they need them.
 
Labor will commit almost $50 million to frontline legal services, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services to ensure women suffering from family violence get legal support. The aim of this is to ensure, at least, that women facing court have access to appropriate legal services.
 
We will also make an initial investment of $15 million in Safe at Home grants to help people affected by family violence stay safe in their own home.
 
In addition, Labor will invest $8 million in perpetrator mapping to look at the interactions across family violence, law enforcement, justice, child protection and related systems to help identify opportunities to prevent violence through information sharing.
 
Labor’s plan for a national crisis summit on family violence has been developed in consultation with experts, academics and advocates like Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty.
 
I have held two roundtable discussions with stakeholders on the matter of family violence, in Sydney and in Melbourne’s West with committed advocate, the Member for Gellibrand Tim Watts. Today’s announcement has involved a significant amount of work by the Member for Gellibrand, together with the Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek and Shadow Ministers Jenny Macklin, Mark Dreyfus, Claire Moore and Jan McLucas.
 
I was elected Labor Leader on a mandate to make family violence a national political priority.
 
In recent years, there has been considerable evidence gathered by inquiries in Queensland and South Australia and Victoria has commenced a Royal Commission.
 
In Government, Labor created the first National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. The national crisis summit seeks to build on this work with a program for clear action. 
 
Our progress has been uneven and too slow. We must put domestic violence at the centre of national political debate in order to change these chilling statistics. We need a national crisis summit.
 
I urge the Prime Minister to work with Labor on this most important of issues as a matter of urgency.