ABC News Breakfast with Lisa Millar


LISA MILLAR: Tomorrow, a meeting in Adelaide will bring together the Federal Government ministers with responsibility for women and women's safety. Their focus will be to table legislation in the first week of Parliament in a matter of days, incorporating themes from campaigns targeting family and domestic violence, as well as measures for First Nations communities.

The Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, joins us now from South Australia. Minister, good morning. Welcome to News Breakfast.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Great to be with you.

LISA MILLAR: Just give us a bit more of an idea about what you want to achieve with this legislation.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well firstly, the Federal Government has made it very clear we would have an intention to bring in family and domestic violence leave in the first sitting period of the Parliament. This is a really important piece of legislation that allows people, no matter where they work, to get 10 days of family and domestic violence leave to perhaps attend counselling, perhaps to go to court. It's a really important piece of legislation because it means that women that may be in these very difficult situations, don't have to choose between their job and leaving a violent relationship. So, that's a really important piece of legislation. In addition, I want to talk with my state and territory colleagues about delivering the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children. This is designed to be a 10-year plan in which we really try and address whether it is prevention, early intervention, our response and recovery. It's really important we are all pulling in the same direction, and that's what I'm looking forward talking to my state and territory counterpart’s tomorrow.

LISA MILLAR: I've got to tell you; it gets pretty depressing on this show. I reckon almost every second day we are discussing some form of domestic violence - someone who has paid a terrible price for the violence of others. Do you have a sense that things are getting better or worse?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: There are things that are getting better. We are seeing attitude changes in community that are getting better. So, more people are recognising domestic and family violence, and more people are actually taking steps to address it. Unfortunately, we're also seeing prevalence increase. Now, that could be a mixture of more violence as well as more reporting.

But we do need to tackle this. This no doubt that this is a scourge on Australian community and we need to be all pushing in the same direction – governments. But also as I mentioned, with the 10 days' family and domestic violence leave there's an opportunity for businesses to participate in trying to eliminate this.

In addition to trying to stop behaviour and stop this violence, we also need to look at our children and how we are ensuring that our children are respectful and that we don't just change behaviours, that we are stopping behaviours ever eventuating.

LISA MILLAR: I tell you, the focus is also, as Parliament resuming next week, about the culture in Canberra. As a senior woman in this new Government, how confident are you that we are going to see a different culture?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I know that our Government is absolutely committed to implementing the recommendations from the range of reports about our culture within our Parliament. I'm very confident that across our Government - not just women in our Government, but right across our Government - very committed to seeing the Parliament a safe working environment that is safe for women. But that we have diversity - whether that is in our parliamentarians, our staff, this is really important.

I am, along with I know all my colleagues, very dedicated to seeing all the recommendations of the Respect@Work implemented, along with the other reports that have been done. But it's not just an issue for the parliament, it's got to be right across our community. Our Parliament, though, should be a best-practice exemplar of what Respect@Work looks like.

LISA MILLAR: Yeah. Minister Amanda Rishworth, thanks for joining us this morning.