Minister Rishworth interview on Sunrise with Natalie Barr


Topics: Leaving Violence Program

NATALIE BARR, HOST: Returning to our top story this week, a step forward. That's how the Prime Minister is describing a nearly $1 billion program to help women escape violent relationships. The funding announcement comes after mounting community pressure on the Government to address the growing number of women who've been killed this year. More than $920 million has been allocated to the Leaving Violence Program over the next five years. It will allow victim-survivors to access up to $5,000 in cash, services and support. Joining me now is Social Services Minister, Amanda Rishworth. Good morning to you. So, the PM acknowledges this is just a step in addressing this crisis. Where does the Government go from here to ensure keeping women safe is a top priority?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Firstly, I would say this program is a very important, permanent program now, and that means women will have the financial support they need if they are thinking about leaving. But of course, it's not the only program. We need to make sure that we are investing in prevention, early intervention, response and also healing and recovery. That's another important area because we don't want the cycle of this violence to continue. So, there are many areas that we need to focus on. National Cabinet is also particularly focused, and is working now, on how to address early intervention for high-risk perpetrators, what are the consequences, things like bail laws. They are having a look at that, but we need programs like the Leaving Violence Program to ensure that women are able, and are in a position, to leave safely.

NATALIE BARR: Yeah, you're right. Bail laws and maybe penalties for AVO breaches are huge. But if you are watching this, this morning, or you hear about this and you think you need these services or you've got a girlfriend who you think may be in trouble, how do you access these new services?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: This payment, which comes along with some basic referral and intervention, can be accessed through the 1800RESPECT website and also phone number. I would encourage anyone to use that. 1800RESPECT provides a range of services, supports and counselling. You can SMS as well. You don't have to call if you're in a difficult circumstance. 1800RESPECT is a very important resource and this payment and program can be accessed through that as well.

NATALIE BARR: Minister, in your heart of hearts, is this enough?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look, it won't be enough for me until we don't see any women living in fear, any children living in fear as a result of violence from men in this country. So, we always need to commit to be doing more, need to be working to doing more. That's what the states and territories and the Commonwealth have agreed to, but I won't be satisfied until we don't see any more women dying.

NATALIE BARR: We will keep a spotlight on this issue. We'll keep in touch. Thank you very much for your time this morning, Minister.