Minister Rishworth interview on FiveAA with David Penberthy


Topics: New Action Plans to end gender-based violence

DAVID PENBERTHY, HOST: First we want to make some space to talk to the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth because there's a very important announcement being made today about a strategy to cut the rate of domestic violence, which roughly stands at one woman a week, losing a life in this country. It's an absolute bloody disgrace. And for the first time, and this is important because you have got to think boldly in terms of trying to address this scourge, there's an actual numerical target being placed on how we need to get these numbers down. And when I say numbers, I mean people, I mean women who should be still with us today. Amanda, thanks for your time. How do you get it down and what is the target?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: The target is very ambitious and thanks for giving this issue some air. We as governments, and that's not just the Commonwealth Government, but all states and territories, are committing to an annual reduction of female homicide by an intimate partner - so that's a woman killed by an intimate partner - by 25% annually. Every death is one too many. But we need to start seeing this track down because these are people's lives and of course, it has ripple effects across whole communities. So, it's an ambitious target, but all states and territories have signed up to it. Your question, though, of how we get there is critical. We all need to be pulling in the same direction. And so what we're launching today is two Action Plans that all states and territories have agreed to, to chart the path to actually achieving that target.

DAVID PENBERTHY: Now, there's a lot of lawyers in Parliament, and I know you're not one, so I'm not accusing you of being a lawyer and I'm certainly not disparaging the legal community. But do the courts need to be part of this too, though? Because so often we see cases where women end up dying at the hands of men who have a history of doing violence, which arguably could have been dealt with more forcefully earlier on. So, is this something - I don't know if it's part of today's announcement - but do we need to get Attorneys General in every state and territory involved in this too, to have a look at what the penalties are for violence towards women?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Attorneys General are part of this and there is a commitment, for example, to start the Law Reform Commission looking at sexual violence offences across all jurisdictions to make sure that they are coordinated. But there is also, in this, better understanding of what coercive control is, for example. That's not just for the community, but that's for legal practitioners, for health services and police in particular. One of the issues is having a better understanding about some of the signs, because often the law responds to a one off incident and doesn't recognise, for example, the pattern of controlling behaviour. So, there is a lot of initiatives in this package today that is getting the legal services or the legal court system, but also police, to better understand what's going on and actually educate them in understanding how domestic and family violence plays out.

DAVID PENBERTHY: Well, it's a good initiative and hopefully it's one that the community will get across and get behind. Amanda Rishworth, the Minister for Social Services there. Thank you.