ABC AM with Sabra Lane


Topics: New action plans to end gender-based violence

SABRA LANE, HOST: All governments – Federal, state and territory – have agreed to the target of eliminating family violence against women and children within a decade and they are outlining two Action Plans on how they'll do it. One is specifically for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders with goals like reducing the incidence of murder against females by intimate partners by 25 per cent a year. The Federal Social Services Minister is Amanda Rishworth. Amanda Rishworth, thanks for joining AM.


SABRA LANE: Everyone supports the idea of eliminating violence against women and kids. Within a generation though, how realistic is that?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We are very ambitious, but we think it can be achieved and that is why the next part of our National Plan is to launch our two dedicated Action Plans. One is our first Action Plan and the second is our dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan. And these really are about setting out the next steps to actually achieve ending violence against women and children.

SABRA LANE: What will it take to achieve that? I mean, Bob Hawke promised in 1987 no child would live in poverty by 1990, and that never happened. Could this new promise end up hounding you the way that pledge did him?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I'm not scared of being ambitious about this and I think it does need concerted effort. One of the really key elements to our National Plan and our Action Plans is that it has all state and territory governments, along with the Commonwealth, working together. But it will take more than just governments. It will take businesses, it will take education institutions, right across the board. There's got to be a whole of societal effort. But by being focused, by having our actions set out, our investment and the goal we're working towards, I think it is realistic that we can achieve it.

SABRA LANE: A target is a 25 per cent reduction every year in female victims of intimate partner homicide. How will that happen?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We need to invest, quite frankly, across the board if we want to see ongoing reduction in the deaths of women at the hands of their intimate partner. We need to make sure that we're investing in response. That's really critical so that women are able to leave a violent relationship and get to safety. But it's actually more than that. If we're going to change this for the long term, we have to invest in prevention. Early intervention is critical and early intervention not just for a woman that may be a victim survivor, but early intervention for men as well. This was particularly a theme that came through in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan, that we need early intervention to change the behaviour of men in particular. So, we need to invest there and we also need to invest in healing and recovery. Once a woman has left a violent relationship, there needs to be the long-term supports put around her. And there's a commitment in our Action Plan for states and territories and the Commonwealth to work together to do that.

SABRA LANE: Have all governments agreed to put more resources towards changing community attitudes and provide appropriately trained personnel at every police station and support for men to make a difference?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: These are the actions that are clearly laid out. States and territories have committed to actions and funding in this area, particularly around educating the mainstream workforce. That is about education for health professionals, it is about education for police, it is about education for the justice system. These are the mainstream services that of course need to improve their response. But it's also things like Services Australia. In the Commonwealth domain, we've recently made a change in which domestic and family violence needs to be considered when someone is being determined whether they're a member of a couple or not, which does affect their payments. So, we do need better education right across all of these systems, and police and the justice system is part of that.

SABRA LANE: What if figures aren't reduced year on year by 25 per cent? Is there a mechanism to review this and adjust plans accordingly, and perhaps allocate more money?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I do think we will need to review our Action Plans. They are three-year Action Plans for our First Nations Action Plan and of course, five-years for our National Plan. We believe these actions do address current gaps, do address urgent needs and that's across the Commonwealth and the states and territories, but also in consultation with victim survivors. But there is going to need to be ongoing monitoring of the progress. Part of that is better data collection, part of that is embedding better measurements and that is a commitment that all governments have made. Not just improving and adding to the targets, but improving our measurement. We also have the Family and Domestic Violence Commission, a new Commission that is independent of government that is holding us all to account as well and measuring our progress.

SABRA LANE: Thanks for your time on AM.