Minister Rishworth interview on Today Show Newschat with Sarah Abo


Topics: Family and domestic violence, National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children, Terror investigation, Classroom discipline

SARAH ABO, HOST: Welcome back. Well, Anthony Albanese has given an impromptu speech at a march against domestic violence. The PM telling thousands we must do better, and it was up to men to change their behaviour. Joining us to discuss today's headlines is Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth and 4BC's Peter Gleeson. Good to see you both. Amanda, the PM declared this a national crisis saying we need to change attitudes, but he's ruled out a Royal Commission, sticking with the current plan. He didn't receive the best reception out there at Canberra yesterday. Is there too much talk and not enough action?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: I would say our National Plan to End Violence Against Women was done with a huge amount of consultation, it was done with victim-survivors, it was done with experts, it was signed up to by all states and territories. One of the things I've been clear about is if we're going to see operational change, we need to follow the plan. We need to have consistent and persistent effort in this, not just at times where it is fronting up in the media, but all of the time. It is critical that we continue to push on this, to look at what we can do better. Some of it is about making sure we have funding. We have got record funding, $2.3 billion, but also about systemic change and changing institutions. I think most people accept not one government, not one institution, not one individual can change this. We've all got to actually work together.

SARAH ABO: Yeah, and sometimes it's much cheaper than all that money. It's just really a conversation at home. I mean, Peter, the number we're looking at is 27. That's 27 women in just four months who we've failed. There are calls for, you know, maybe a national apology as a signal that this is being taken seriously, because for many, we're clearly not doing enough.

PETER GLEESON, 4BC PRESENTER: Yeah, I think a national apology is adequate. I think the Queensland model is a good one here. Margaret McMurdo, there was a Commission of Inquiry and they really got into the space of coercive control. There have been new coercive control laws brought in in Queensland and I just think the whole issue needs a national approach. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, it's a societal issue, it's not just a government issue. But there's also two other parts of this, I think, Sarah. One is policing. That inquiry in Queensland showed very clearly that the policing response, certainly at the front line, hadn't been adequate and so we need to address that from a policing perspective. And also, I think going into the schools, talking to young men at a younger age and getting them into the zone of, ok, respect is super, super important and it's very important that we address that at a young age.

SARAH ABO: Yeah, I think you're absolutely right and respect is key there. Right, well, a group of Sydney teens have allegedly described themselves as ‘Soldiers of Allah’ while organising a terror attack in the days after Sydney's Wakeley Church stabbing. Amanda, police reportedly uncovered texts including one from a 17-year-old who allegedly wrote, I want to die and I want to kill. A 16-year-old replied, allegedly, we're going to kill, don't worry. But we need patience. It's pretty alarming.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Of course, I don't want to comment on this as this is an ongoing investigation, but what I would say is there is no place for violent extremism in this country. We are a country that wants to be unified, that comes together. We're a peace-loving country and so there is just no place for violent extremism in this country. I want to make that really clear. In terms of this, I'm not going to comment. As you know, there is currently an investigation underway, but I would like to just also acknowledge the great work done by our law enforcement agencies who have acted very swiftly in this case.

SARAH ABO: Peter, I mean, we are talking about teens here allegedly planning to commit terror. Some were concerned about, you know, the lack of community consultation before these police raids. Do you think that would have helped if the community had been involved in these teens lives earlier?

PETER GLEESON: Oh, absolutely. I think that's the key here. That's the issue. There needs to be some responsibility taken right now from the Islamic community, whether it be in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, whatever, Perth, Adelaide. They need to be on the front foot and identifying whether these young fellows are being radicalised or institutionalised when it comes to the Islamic culture. And I think that's the key. And I agree with Amanda, ASIO, Home Affairs are doing a magnificent job here, establishing, you know, the susceptibility that Australians have. But I think it now comes back to the local communities, the local Imams, to get their act together and ensure that this does not happen.

SARAH ABO: It's delicate because obviously you don't want to encourage anything else. All right let's move on to this final topic. This is one that we’re all talking about this morning. Old school discipline is the bold new plan to save our schools. Apparently, Aussie kids will be taught how to line up, keep quiet and be still. Amanda, how is this not already happening? I mean, they're calling it the new model. Isn't that just standard discipline?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I think it is pretty standard discipline. I think it's important that if you're in a classroom and if you're not listening, you're actually not learning. I think it's important that we do, of course, have schools where we are minimising the disruptive behaviour because it's not fair on the other students, it's not fair on the teachers. And making sure teachers are prepared for that is also really important. I haven't always been perfect…

SARAH ABO: Oh, Amanda, I find that hard to believe. What naughty stuff did you get up to?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, look, I found school a very social place, but I did have a teacher, well, I had a teacher once say to me that you are going home and doing all your homework, but others are not. You're disrupting them. And I did feel guilty and it did work.

SARAH ABO: [laughing] She was guilt tripping you? That's funny. Pete, how bad did it get for you? I bet you were a wild child at school.

PETER GLEESON: I used to get the cane.

SARAH ABO: What! the cane?

PETER GLEESON: Yeah, yeah, the cane. Yeah, yeah.

SARAH ABO: What did you do for that?

PETER GLEESON: Oh, I don't know, probably talking in class. Four cuts of the cane in the middle of winter in Grafton was a pretty severe thing. But look, I think being a teacher these days is a really unenviable task. My cousin is a teacher and he finds it incredibly challenging. And I think we have to bring back some sort of measures of disciplinary, you know, aspects to get these kids under control, because right now, as one of the Today show listeners said, or viewers said, it's out of control and it needs to be brought under control.