Minister Rishworth press conference in Perth


ZANETA MASCARENHAS, MEMBER FOR SWAN: I’m Zaneta Mascarenhas, the Federal member for Swan. We're here at Fleetwood Australia, which is at Perth Airport to see an incredible project. I will now go to Minister Amanda Rishworth to tell you more about the project.

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: It's wonderful to be here with Zaneta to look at these modular buildings being built by Fleetwood here at the Perth Airport. These buildings are really interesting to go through and feel like a really special home, but they're going to provide even a more special place for women and children escaping domestic violence in Karratha. This is a $5 million investment by the Commonwealth partnering with the Salvation Army, but also Rio Tinto, Woodside and Lotterywest that is making this new refuge in Karratha a reality. What we will see is two three-bedroom homes, eight two-bedroom homes and four single-bedroom homes as a result of this partnership, vastly expanding the refuge space and the crisis accommodation for women and children escaping family and domestic violence. And so I would like to really thank Fleetwood who has been the project lead on this accommodation and tell you they don't feel like modular, they don't feel like temporary accommodation. They feel like real homes when you look through them. But also really thank the Salvation Army. Our Safe Places partnership is a critical partnership in which we are able to partner with non-government organisations, providing not only safe places, but also intensive support for women and children escaping domestic violence. But I'm really pleased that not only has the Commonwealth Government announced the $5 million for this project, but we will also see 8 workers as part of our 500 worker investment being part of this project providing extra support to women and children fleeing family and domestic violence. Now I'm really pleased that there has been a lot of important design work to make these disability compliant, ensuring there's no unintended barrier for women with disability. But it was also wonderful to hear the work that was done by the local Indigenous elders to make sure this was designed in partnership again, with the local community. Not a building that's just plonked down in the town and expected that people will use, but to actually make sure that the local Aboriginal women were involved in the design. So this is a really great partnership, really a special partnership and I'm really pleased to be down here. I might throw now to Warren from the Salvation Army, and then go to Paul as a Project Manager to make a few comments as well.

WARREN PALMER, THE SALVATION ARMY: Hello, I’m Warren Palmer, Public Relations Secretary for the Salvation Army. This has been an exciting day for us. This is a milestone which is about realisation of almost five years of work in planning for this project. But it's a realisation that bringing this project to fulfilment will make a huge difference for communities. This has been something which the Salvation Army has poured its heart and soul into and a lot of work in terms of just the planning, design, collaboration with local Indigenous leaders as well. But I do also want to acknowledge the collaboration broader than that, which is really critically important to acknowledge, which is between the state and federal governments which works fantastically well in bringing not only the project build together in terms of the funds, but also working with us in terms of its operational requirements when it opens its doors. So it's been fantastic. I also want to name Rio Tinto and Woodside and Lotterywest. They stood with us when we had a funding gap and really is the main reason why we stand here, as well as the Federal Government. So it's been a fantastic collaboration. But what we really are excited about is that so many more women and children will be able to find not only respite but care for recovery through a thorough therapeutic service, which will provide so much more than we currently do. Thank you.

PAUL POLLETTA, FLEETWOOD AUSTRALIA PROJECT MANAGER: Hi, I'm Paul. I'm the Project Manager on this project. Unlike some of the other projects that we're currently doing this is quite unique in the way that it's obviously a project that's giving back to the community. There’s been a lot of stakeholders involved and it's been really interesting working with the architects, the Salvation Army, and going through all the different elements of the project and we're just very excited to have this one.

JOURNALIST: Is this the first of its kind? there been anything like this before?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: So the Safe Places program has been in place for some time, but most of them are actual builds in place on land. This is the first one I'm aware of that is having such a big fit out here on site and will be transported to Karratha. This is a really innovative way to make sure that we are not forgetting our rural and regional communities when it comes to providing a safe place and crisis accommodation.

JOURNALIST: And can you tell us what the benefit is of these houses being built here and then transported?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The benefits really involve having the workforce, I think it's fair to say, that can do the work in a timely manner, but also making sure that the costs are on time and on budget. That really is something that us, as the funder, we’re always looking for. But I think also being able to have the collaboration as well. But that hasn't been just done here in Perth. Obviously as the Salvation Army has indicated a lot of work has been done in community as well, where these houses are going to make sure that there is input from the local community as well. So I think there is benefits by having the build here, but not just having the build here but also involving the local community has been important as well.

JOURNALIST: And how big is this issue of domestic violence in WA?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Domestic and family violence is an issue right across the country. It's an issue that we know that too many women and children are impacted by family domestic violence. It's an issue in WA, it's an issue in South Australia, it's an issue right across our country. And so as the Federal Government we have put in our new National Plan. It's a ten-year National Plan to tackle family domestic and sexual violence. And we've backed that up with a $2.3 billion investment. And that investment goes to capital builds such as this one for Safe Places, but it's also an investment in services and support. And that's why I'm really pleased that in addition to being a significant contributor to this build, we are able to fund the workers that will work and give that care, support and compassion to women escaping family and domestic violence.

JOURNALIST: So along with this temporary accommodation you also support women and families and getting them back on track and finding them more permanent accommodation?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: So the work that The Salvation Army does, and I might ask Warren to add to this, but it provides really holistic support so as part of the Safe Places program, we don't just build the houses and support. There's an expectation that we partner with organisations to provide wraparound support, and that involves supporting them with longer term housing, but also the healing and recovery, connecting up potentially with getting income support, for example, ensuring that the right legal support and advice is in place, that the right safety planning is actually put into place. These are really important for women to stay safe and remain safe. But also, as Warren suggested, to actually heal and recover from that incident of family and domestic violence. But I might ask Warren to add to the service, the holistic service they provide.

WARREN PALMER: Down here at Perth we have a refuge, which is a holistic therapeutic service, which provides a range of supports, including things like child psychologists and all those sorts of things which sometimes we don't even consider as necessary in that process. So we do have that holistic service down here in Perth. We want to replicate that in the Northwest, so that we have that full, immersing experience for people so that there's just not one part of a person that's impacted by family and domestic violence. There's sometimes a range of issues, and sometimes they are short-term and long-term as well. We have outreach workers who go out into the community and support those that have stayed in community whilst they may experience some circumstances. So there is that holistic sense of what we need to provide. Some of that is beyond our control in terms of housing and things like that. But we worked very hard to transition people back into the community. That's the end result. We want people to enter into healthy relationships, back into community.

JOURNALIST: And can you give us a project timeline, when should people expect these to be, you know, up and running?

WARREN PALMER: We would hope later this year, that we'll have this service ready to open its doors. So just subject to a number of different things happening and the logistics coming together. We would hope later this year we'll have this service opening its doors.

JOURNALIST: And Minister we've just got some questions of the day. So why have governments decided to delay their response to the Disability Royal Commission Report?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, the Disability Royal Commission Report was an extensive report. It had 12 volumes of work, it spent four and a half years working towards its recommendations. There's 222 recommendations. So we are thoroughly considering our response. There's a lot of intersection between states and territories as well. But we also know that the disability community wants to know our response soon. So we have put out a statement today as well. We will not be able to meet the 31st of March deadline. We have said in agreement with all states and territories that we will respond to the Royal Commission’s recommendations by mid this year. That is gives us enough time to make sure we're consulting with the disability community. I held a consultation yesterday in Melbourne where a number of implementation challenges were discussed, along with some of the areas that disability advocates felt the Royal Commission maybe was a bit light on or didn't fully explore. So we want to make sure that we take our response seriously, that we've consulted with the disability community. But we do know people want to hear from us and that's why we've committed to releasing our response by mid this year.

JOURNALIST: And will it be considered alongside the NDIS Review now that, you know, the response has been delayed.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Of course the work we are doing is absolutely looking in parallel with the NDIS Review. That was another very large body of work about how we best support people living with disability. But the Disability Royal Commission work is equally as important. What the Disability Royal Commission 
Report recommended was better inclusion right across this country. And today we've seen a commitment, a small example of where inclusion for people with disabilities has been considered, and that is that these are safe places for women and children. A lot of thought has gone in to how we make them disability accessible. That's not something that's part of the NDIS Review, but a big call about how we make our society more inclusive. That was a call from the Royal Commission. So we will be constantly working on that. It will be considered alongside the NDIS review, but importantly, it is much broader than the NDIS review. It is about how we make our society, our country, a more inclusive place for people with disability.

JOURNALIST: Some would say given the report was handed down in September, It's already been six months which is enough time. What's your response?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, 12 volumes over 5000 pages, 222 recommendations. We take this seriously. We are digesting this, we are working with our states and territories. There are many recommendations that require a joint response from states and territories. So we need to consult with the community. As I said already, I've hosted a number of roundtables and are speaking with people about their reaction and their response and to the recommendations. We must acknowledge on some of these recommendations, there are varied views and indeed the Commissioners themselves did not have a unified response to these Royal Commission recommendations. So we need to work through the issues, but I absolutely commit that the Government is taking this seriously. And we want to give a fulsome response, but we also know timeliness is important. And so we will work with states and territories to respond by mid-year. Thank you.