Minister Rishworth interview on ABC News Breakfast with Bridget Brennan


Topic: Training for faith leaders to extend care to women and children in crisis.

BRIDGET BRENNAN, HOST: We want to take you to federal politics now because the Government is launching a new grant today aimed at better supporting women and children experiencing family, domestic and sexual violence. The $3 million boost aims to increase training for faith leaders in CALD communities to extend care to women and children in crisis. The Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth joins us now from Sydney. Good morning to you Minister.


BRIDGET BRENNAN: Take us through this new initiative and what communities will be able to do with this training for people to recognise the signs of women and children in distress.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: What we know is, particularly women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are more vulnerable, potentially to family and domestic violence. There's more shame about asking for help and also a mistrust of government. So, what this program is going to do is ensure that community leaders and faith leaders have the training and the skills to be able to identify when family and domestic violence might be occurring and how to give helpful advice or intervene. The evidence shows that culturally, linguistically diverse women are more likely to seek advice from their faith networks. So, we want to make sure that leaders in these networks know how to respond to support these women and children.

BRIDGET BRENNAN: What sorts of pieces of advice should those leaders be giving to women in distress? And are you concerned that the right type of advice isn't being given at the moment in some communities?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I think what's happening at the moment is often there might be a disclosure and people don't know how to help. And I think that's a very common issue that does occur. And so what this will be doing is making sure that there are clear referral pathways, clear understanding of what support is available, but also to look out for signs and symptoms. Sometimes women might not disclose because of the shame and for faith leaders and community leaders to be able to look for the signs and symptoms, know what to look out for and how to intervene, particularly if families come and want to talk about parenting and their relationships. Looking out for some of these things is really important.

BRIDGET BRENNAN: Minister, we know there are often language and cultural barriers for a lot of Australian women from different backgrounds trying to access support. What else needs to be done with services so that once a woman is referred somewhere, they're actually treated with respect and given the right kind of advice and support that suits their cultural background?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: You are absolutely right. There are different barriers, whether that's language, whether that's the visa type, for example. So, we need to make sure that the services and support are available. For 1800RESPECT, there is translation services available so, that is a really important element and there are services being funded specifically with cultural understanding. But this is not the only piece in the puzzle. There is a lot of work being done to support and break down some of those barriers, including, for example, as I said, our temporary migrant, escaping domestic violence payment that was uneven. There was $5000 if you're a citizen, only $3000 if you're a temporary migrant. We've made that equal now, knowing that to escape family and domestic violence shouldn't matter on your visa type, you should get that extra support. So, there's a lot being done at the moment, but this is particularly important to make sure that community leaders, faith leaders, have the knowledge, the expertise and the understanding about how to help.

BRIDGET BRENNAN: Minister, there has been a shocking number of domestic and family violence related deaths of women this year alone. We're only in February. We've seen, I think, a dozen women killed. What is going on? This is a crisis. What more can be done to ensure that women are kept safe in this country?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Every death to family and domestic violence is absolutely shocking, but the rate we are seeing is even more shocking. This ripples through society, ripples through communities, ripples through families. We are funding a significant investment - $2.3 billion. But we must invest in all of the four domains outlined in the National Plan, and that involves prevention, early intervention, crisis responses and healing and recovery. We need to invest across the board if we are going to change this trajectory. You don't always see the results of prevention activities immediately, but if we are going to change the cycle in the long term, then we must start investing in those areas as well, which our government has been doing. But this is something we do need to address. We need to do it with states and territories, along with everyone out there in the community. Everyone has a role to play, and that's why we are investing in this training to support our faith leaders to provide the right intervention and support they can for women.

BRIDGET BRENNAN: Amanda Rishworth in Sydney, thank you very much for your time this morning.