Assistant Minister Elliot interview on ABC NewsRadio Breakfast


Topics: Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, Evidence Portal, National Plan

TOM ORITI, HOST: Now, from today, anyone around the world will be able to access an Australian-led data initiative aimed at reducing the rates of family, domestic and sexual violence. A new online tool known as the Evidence Portal has been created by Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety. It'll collate academic studies and the latest research into the violence. And as I said, it's an Australian led initiative. So, to discuss this further, we're joined now by the Assistant Minister for Social Services and the Prevention of family Violence, Justine Elliot. Good morning. Thank you for your time.

JUSTINE ELLIOT, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR THE PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE: Good morning, Tom, and great to be with you to talk about this really important initiative. Yes, so important.

TOM ORITI: Yeah, indeed. So, tell us about it. What sort of information will be fed into this portal? How's it all going to work?

JUSTINE ELLIOT: Well, first of all, Tom, as you said, anyone from around the world can access this really important Australian led data initiative. It's called the Evidence Portal, and it's such an important tool and of course, it's been created and maintained by the National Research Organisation for Women's Safety. And what it is, essentially, is an online tool that will provide evidence for governments, policymakers, practitioners. It's so important to have all of that because as a Government, working with the states and territories, we all want to make sure that we can stop violence against women and children in one generation.

We know that the rates of domestic violence are unacceptably high and one of the things that we need to have more of is data. And as part of our National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children, one of those main aspects is making sure that we do gather enough data. And that's exactly what this Evidence Portal does, and it is an absolutely Australian-led initiative because we need to have that data internationally and we need to have it domestically as well, and in one place, so that all policymakers can refer to a whole range of different reviews and articles and research. So, we can all work together to make sure we can end violence against women and children in one generation.

TOM ORITI: So, it's Australian-led, but it sounds like it involves research and data from around the world with regards to domestic violence, is that right?

JUSTINE ELLIOT: Look absolutely Tom. It does involve initially data from all around the world, but also within Australia as well. And, this is just the start of it. Obviously, it will be built upon and have a lot of evidence as we grow. All of that research and evidence, and to have it all in one spot is vitally important.

TOM ORITI: Yeah. Why is that? Sorry to interrupt, but what are the benefits of having all this information in one place? Because I guess that's a huge part of this initiative, right?

JUSTINE ELLIOT: Absolutely, Tom. What it means is, whether it's governments or whether it's policymakers, practitioners or researchers, can go to one spot and evaluate that evidence. Currently, that doesn't happen. And we know that in developing our National Plan, one of the things we really, really had to work on was to get more data. So, having this evidence portal, having that tool, means that all that research can be done about what works right across the board, whether it's about prevention or responses, recovery and healing. And we need to do that for governments as well, in terms of our investments, to make sure that we are providing the correct support and services that people need, and that we all work together for this one result - to end violence.

TOM ORITI: Is there an idea that it wouldn't just be Australian people accessing this data, then it's going to become a global - it's Australian led - but it will become a global resource?

JUSTINE ELLIOT: Absolutely, Tom. And we want to make sure we're looking at evidence from across the world in terms of what works. We know that there is a lot more to be done in terms of understanding what works, in terms of the interventions to stop domestic violence, and we want to be able to rely on all data sources and that's why the online tool is so incredibly important.

TOM ORITI: As you say, we want to look at global examples and see what they're doing. Are we lagging behind in this space? Because you flagged at the very top of the interview there, that the rates of domestic violence in Australia are alarmingly high. Let's not forget how high they are when it comes to indigenous population as well. Are we going in the right direction here? Because for the first time, your government set a target for ending violence. Let's not forget that.

JUSTINE ELLIOT: Well, Tom, we have our National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children, and the Action Plan that goes with that, working really closely with the states and territories to make sure we can achieve that goal. And there have been massive investments and we need to have this data when we're looking to the future to make sure we can provide those services at every stage. We need to have prevention, we need to have those early responses, we need to have the recovery and healing as well.

TOM ORITI: There's the plan in place, but do you feel that’s enough? Because it comes down a lot to behavioural change, doesn't it? And there does appear to be a cultural problem here with those alarmingly high rates, do you feel that they're actually heading in the right direction? No doubt the intention is there. You've got the plan in place, you've got that 25% annual reduction target in place for the first time, I should note. But are we actually heading in the right direction at the moment? Those rates remain stubbornly high.

JUSTINE ELLIOT: You're absolutely right, Tom. We know there's a whole range of work that needs to be done. And many of our investments when you talk about cultural change, many of our investments in terms of prevention are about changing awareness, whether it be about teaching consent in schools, whether it be about a range of programs that we already have.

We know there's a lot of work to do, and a big part of that is cultural change. And, we do invest in that at the moment, but right across the board we have to have, of course, sufficient investment and resources, and that's why this evidence pool is a big part of that, to know what is working. Yes, this is a huge achievement we have to get towards, and we know there's a lot of work to be done across a whole range of issues, but prevention is a very, very big part of that. And we do need to change perceptions and change cultural attitudes as well about gender and about gender equality. And a big part of our government's investments are around that as well.

TOM ORITI: No doubt. So, when we look at those issues, behavioural change, cultural perceptions of gender and gender equality, a lot of that comes down to the grassroots, down to work at a community level. I mean, just to be devil's advocate for a minute, are you actually confident that an evidence portal of research is actually going to help to translate at that grassroots level into stopping and preventing domestic violence?

JUSTINE ELLIOT: Well, Tom, it's part of the bigger suite of measures that we have. It's a really important part of it so we can look at the data around the world that’s working. It's all happening in conjunction with our massive Investments, working with the sector, working with the States and Territories, working across all of those areas that I talked about, and making sure that at every stage and at every intervention, we can provide the best possible support and services, to make sure we get that result of ending violence against women and children.

TOM ORITI: Ok, Justine Elliot, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate your time.

JUSTINE ELLIOT: Thanks so much, Tom.