Minister Ruston interview – Sunrise

E&OE

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:
There's been an alarming rise in a number of family violence reports following coronavirus lockdowns and a new Government campaign is urging victims to reach out.

[Excerpt]
Tough times don't excuse tougher times at home, even in crisis there's no place for abuse or domestic violence. If you or someone you know is affected, help is available online and by phone 24/7. For free confidential advice, support and counselling for women and men, contact 1800 RESPECT. There's no place for abuse or domestic violence. Help is here.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:
Families Minister, Anne Ruston, joins us now from Canberra. Minister, good morning. I just can't even imagine how terrifying it must have been for anybody suffering abuse to be locked in a house with the perpetrator during lockdown. How have a coronavirus restrictions impacted the numbers that you're seeing for domestic violence victims?

MINISTER RUSTON:
Well so far Sam they've been quite mixed. I mean we saw overnight an article in The Australian that said the New South Wales Police have seen that they've actually seen a decrease in the number of instances reported whereas Victorian Police are reporting that they've seen a slight increase. But what we really wanted to do as part of this campaign was to make sure that people knew where they could get help if they found themselves in a situation where they thought they were at risk or that they were a victim of domestic violence so that they could get the help and the support that they needed at the time.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:
A lot of people in these situations feel like they're stuck. So, how does this new Help is Here campaign help those people?

MINISTER RUSTON:
Well what we've done is to try and be as innovative as possible about the way we've got our message out. So for instance, we've worked with the supermarkets, so Coles, Woolworths and Metcash and the like, to make sure that we've provided the information. They're putting flyers in shopping bags, they're making sure notices are put in the restrooms of these places because, as you rightly point out, many people have been sent home and they're locked in a house, and often the only place that women particularly find themselves are on their own is when they go shopping. So we've made sure that the information's available to them when they go shopping so that they can pick up the phone and they can get the support and advice and find out what is the best thing for them to do if they feel that they are at risk. So it's been a campaign that we've tried to use as many different media, the mainstream like you guys on the TV, through social media, but also by using things like Amazon Australia which have been really good at getting our message out. So it's been a challenge but an innovative way to get the message out.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:
Well, it sounds like a really good way to get the message out. For the rest of us, what are the red flags that a family member - I mean, this could be happening to anybody - what are the signs that someone you know could be going through this?

MINISTER RUSTON:
Well first of all I think we have to realise that it's not just physical violence that can be considered as abuse. There are many different forms, you know, it could be coercion, it could be just basically putting someone down. So what we'd say is if you see a family member or a friend that's behaving differently than they normally do, they might be behaving in a much more withdrawn way, obviously if you see any marks or bruises on the person, they might just be completely withdrawn but what we'd say is if you're concerned about a family member or friend, ring 1800 RESPECT and they will work through with you advice about how you might handle it, how you might be able to approach it with the person because we understand every situation is different. So, 18000 RESPECT or ring MensLine and hopefully any of the support that you need will be available to you.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:
Okay. And we'll put all those details on our website. Families Minister Anne Ruston, thank you for your time. We're going to have details of the Help is Here campaign on our website sunrise.com.au.