Labor has announced that in government it would appoint a family, domestic and sexual violence commissioner and also fund 500 new community sector workers to help women at risk or in crisis.
Labor spokeswoman Jenny McAllister says more staff are desperately needed. “I visited a service last week in western Sydney that said that over the last year they’d helped around 1200 women who were seeking their assistance to escape violence. But they turned away 1100 because they didn’t have the workers to support them.”
Asked why, despite increased attention and funding for combatting domestic violence, we don’t seem to be getting on top of the problem, McAllister says she doesn’t “underestimate how complex and challenging it will be to produce sustained reduction in rates of violence.”
But, she argues, a change of government is needed “to restore that momentum and energy that was there at the beginning of this planned process”.
Earlier this year there were nationwide marches on women’s justice issues. Has the momentum faded? McAllister says: “There is still an enormous trust deficit between the prime minister and Australian women […] Australian women had had enough.”
(In a game of pre-emption, the government announced it would set up a family, domestic and sexual violence commission, in a statement released just before Labor’s on Tuesday night.)
Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra