Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced the details of his Government’s $100 million package of practical measures to help in the fight against family violence. His ‘safety net for women and children at high risk of experiencing violence’ includes measures aimed at improving frontline support and services for the vulnerable as well as attempts to change community attitudes to violence.
While the package has been generally well received in the mainstream media, some concerns have been expressed, such as by the Law Council of Australia, who argue the provision of a $15 million increase to Legal Aid funding falls vastly short of the $200 million increase recommended by the Productivity Commission (http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/news/17215-legal-community-applauds-15-million-dv-legal-aid-investment).
On the whole though, the package is regarded as a promising beginning from the Turnbull Government on the issue of family violence, with campaigner Rosie Batty especially pleased to see the commitment to introduce respectful relationship education in the curriculums of Australian schools (http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/rosie-batty-emotional-at-malcolm-turnbulls-100-million-push-against-domestic-violence-20150923-gjtnpq.html).
Full details of the package described on the PM’s website are as follows:
Immediate practical actions to keep women safe include:
- $12 million to trial with states the use of innovative technology to keep women safe (such as GPS trackers for perpetrators), with funding to be matched by states and territories.
- $5 million for safer technology, including working with telecommunications companies to distribute safe phones to women, and with the eSafety Commissioner to develop a resource package about online safety for women, including for women from CALD communities.
- $17 million to keep women safe in their homes by expanding successful initiatives like the Safer in the Home programme to install CCTV cameras and other safety equipment, and a grant to the Salvation Army to work with security experts to conduct risk assessments on victim’s homes, help change their locks and scan for bugs.
- $5 million to expand 1800RESPECT, the national telephone and online counselling and information service, to ensure more women can get support.
- $2 million increased funding for MensLine for tools and resources to support perpetrators not to reoffend.
- Up to $15 million to enable police in Qld to better respond to domestic violence in remote communities and for measures that reduce reoffending by Indigenous perpetrators.
- $3.6 million for the Cross Border Domestic Violence Intelligence Desk to share information on victims and perpetrators who move around the cross border region of WA, SA and the NT.
Immediate measures to improve support and services for women will include increased training for frontline staff and trials of integrated service models:
- $14 million to expand the DV-alert training programme to police, social workers, emergency department staff and community workers to better support women, and work with the College of General Practitioners to develop and deliver specialised training to GPs across the country.
- $15 million to establish specialised domestic violence units to provide access to coordinated legal, social work and cultural liaison services for women in a single location, and allow legal services to work with local hospitals, including for women from CALD communities and women living in regional/remote areas.
- $5 million for local women’s case workers, to coordinate support for women, including housing, safety and budgeting services.
- $1.4 million to extend the Community Engagement Police Officers in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern territory.
- Up to $1.1 million to help remote Indigenous communities prevent and better respond to the incidence of domestic violence through targeted support.
- $5 million will also be provided as a longer-term measure to change the attitudes of young people to violence, through expanding the Safer Schools website to include resources for teachers, parents and students on respectful relationships. This will build on the $30 million national campaign (jointly funded by the Commonwealth, states and territories) to change young people’s attitudes to violence, which will commence in early 2016.
Are you experiencing family violence and need advice? Please contact Cristina Huesch or one of our solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 for compassionate, empathetic assistance, and see also our page here https://www.familylawincanberra.com.au/our-services-2/domestic-violence-support-and-advice-links/ for useful links which may help you.