Inaugural Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Recovery and Healing Conference

Good morning and thank you all for being here today.

I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today, the Dharawal people, and pay my respects to Elders – past, present, and emerging.

I extend this respect to all First Nations peoples here today. Thank you to Dr Jodi Edwards for the Welcome to Country.

I would like to acknowledge other guests here today, and the members of the conference panel, including:

  • Lula Dembele, co-founder of the Independent Collective of Survivors organisation, and founder of the Accountability Matters Project.
  • Sally Stevenson AM, Executive Director of the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre.
  • Dr Hannah Tonkin, NSW Women’s Safety Commissioner.
  • Micaela Cronin, Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commissioner.

Thank you to all distinguished guests and panel members for generously sharing your time and expertise.

I would also like to pay tribute to anyone with us today who has lived experience of family, domestic, or sexual violence.

I understand today and tomorrow may be difficult, and I thank you for your courage in being here.

As the Assistant Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, I am honoured to here today to highlight the importance of recovery and healing from violence.

I understand the emotional vulnerability required from people with lived experience when having these conversations, and the emotional toll it can take.

While important, it can be exhausting, and I admire your strength and courage.

It is because of you that this conference can occur today.

The road to recovery is not a straightforward or linear one.

It is often two steps forward and one step back.

Recovery and healing is an ongoing process that enables victim-survivors to be safe, healthy, and resilient.

The Albanese Labor Government is committed to ensuring that the voices of people with lived experience of family, domestic, and sexual violence are heard and honoured.

I am proud that as a nation, we have committed to ending violence against women and children within one generation.

Women’s safety is a national priority for our Government.

We want to provide the focus and national leadership to deliver change through the voices of victim-survivors.

As you are all acutely aware, victim-survivors require proper support in order to recover from the financial, social, psychological, emotional, and physical impacts of violence.

Our Government acknowledges the importance of coming together, like today’s conference, in order to build a solid foundation of support for people with lived experience.

Recovery includes addressing the short-term, long-term, and of course lifelong health impacts.

As a government, and as a broader society, we want to encourage the rebuilding of a victim-survivor’s life and reinforce their ability and confidence to safely return and engage with the community.

This includes finding financial independence and economic security.

However, I know that there is no straightforward way for this to happen; there is no one size fits all.

Each individual has a different experience with the stages of recovery.

And this is where you all come in.

While governments have a central role to play in assisting victim-survivors in this process, we cannot end violence alone.

With your assistance, we are able to support the vast experiences of people on their journey to recovery and healing.

An important aspect of recovery and healing is acknowledging the trauma that victim-survivors of family, domestic, or sexual violence live with on a daily basis.

Trauma presents itself in many different ways.

It can occur immediately after an event, or many years later. No two experiences are the same.

Within the context of gender-based violence, victim-survivors often experience multiple traumatic events over time.

This can result in complex trauma, with the mental, emotional, and physical impacts potentially extending over the long-term.

In addition to this, trauma can extend to children and other family members who may experience or witness violence.

We often see intergenerational or vicarious trauma stemming from this violence.

We need to consider all of this in our steps to help victim-survivors.

Expert voices are required to assist the Government in responding to victim-survivor trauma, and assisting individuals through the process of recovery and healing.

Victim-survivors have specific and contextual expertise that comes from lived experience of abuse and violence.

Through the establishment of an advisory group made up of people with lived experience, the Albanese Labor Government has made a commitment to ongoing engagement with victim-survivors throughout the life of the First Action Plan.

That is why we are investing $1 million to establish this group, which ensures that victim-survivors inform policies and solutions.

The advisory group, working closely with the Domestic, Family, and Sexual Violence Commissioner, will ensure the perspectives and experiences of victim-survivors are embedded in all activities under the First Action Plan.

Additionally, over the course of the Plan, we will continue to develop actions that respond to emerging issues and recommendations identified by the group.

In last year’s Budget, the Albanese Labor Government announced more than $67 million over four years to 2025-26 to pilot a new model of trauma-informed recovery care.

This model will be embedded in existing services for people who have experienced family, domestic, and sexual violence.

The pilot program aims to promote sustained recovery from family, domestic, and sexual violence.

These programs and funding arrangements are in place to address the health impacts violence can have on both people with lived experience, and their families. Because as we know, these often persist for long periods if trauma is not addressed.

We also announced an investment of over $48 million to 2025-26 to support victims-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence and child sexual abuse to navigate the health system.

Through this funding, Primary Health Network clinicians can develop a Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) Primary Care Action Plan to identify patients at immediate risk.

This initial identification enables clinicians to plan, manage, record and refer via an exclusive primary care pathway for patient triage and support.

This measure directly supports the implementation of the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032, by providing increased support to primary care providers to assist in the early identification and intervention of family, domestic, sexual violence and child sexual abuse.

We know the shocking impact violence and trauma can have on people’s lives.

It can influence relationships, with family, friends and children, and have an impact on employment.

We are also only just beginning to understand the deep impact of the experience of violence and trauma on children.

Children who grow up witnessing and experiencing violence can be profoundly affected across their lifetimes.

We must remain committed to a long-term approach with appropriate supports, with input from victim-survivors, to break through the cycle of violence.

Finally, I would like to thank you all again for your openness, understanding, and honesty at today’s Recovery and Healing Conference.

We know that one of the keys to ending violence against women and children is ensuring that those who have experienced it have a say in the development of solutions.

The voices of people with lived experience of family, domestic, and sexual violence are vital when discussing trauma-informed programs for healing and recovery.

Our Government is committed to ensuring that your voices are heard to inform policies, solutions, and results.

I look forward to seeing the impact that the advisory council will have on individuals and their families who have experienced violence, and the effect that it will have on the broader community.

Together, we can come together to end violence against women and children.

Thank you. Your bravery and resilience is paving the way for generations to come – thank you.