Press conference post Women’s Safety Ministers Meeting


MINISTER FOR WOMEN KATY GALLAGHER:  Thank you very much for coming today. Amanda Rishworth and I are here just following a very successful meeting of women's ministers and Women's Safety ministers from around the country. This was the first meeting in person of those portfolios on hold, and it was a really important meeting to get everybody together to talk about all of the issues across the women's and women safety portfolio. I have responsibility for a number of new initiatives under the Albanese Labor government that we took to the last campaign, and Minister Rishworth will talk about the areas that she has responsibility for, most importantly, the National Plan to end violence against women and children, which was the large part of the discussion at the meeting today. It was an opportunity to inform the states and territories of the important work we are doing as an incoming government in the area of women's policy, so we've committed to a National Plan for gender equality. We're establishing a women's economic security Task Force, and we have a range of processes underway across government about gender responsive budgeting and gender impact assessments. We also gave the states and territories the opportunity to raise with us issues that they are working on and to update each other about specific policies, areas that they are focusing on in their own jurisdictions. And, it was a huge opportunity to share information in this area and really drive a whole of government approach to addressing in particular issues around women's safety, domestic and family violence against women and children, and I think we will certainly meet again to progress it. I think the takeout that I took from the meeting was that addressing issues of gender equality and violence against women is a national priority and is dealt with, being dealt with as a priority across every state and territory. There are huge amounts of work underway which goes to show you I think about the not the seriousness of the matters, we're dealing with the prevalence, particularly in violence, the issues around gender equality that we're all working on, and the fact that we all need to work together as you know, as ministers across the nation to and the huge responsibility we have to drive change and represent the interests of women across the country. I’ll hand now to Amanda and she will update you on the National Plan.

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES AMANDA RISHWORTH: Thanks, Katy. Well today's meeting around the table of ministers from states and territories, along with the Commonwealth there was absolute resolve to end violence against women and children. And, when the statistics demonstrate the need for this to say that one woman dies every 10 days at the hands of their partner or former partner, this statistic is appalling and is unacceptable. And that resolve and that commitment was shared by every single Minister across the table and what became very clear is there was a resolve to get the National Plan done. I'm so pleased that there was a commitment around progressing the National Plan and to finalise it by October. This is a really important step so that we can get on with developing the action plans that go along, outlining the states and territories actions that they will take along with the Commonwealth. This is a really important piece of work and some of the common themes that came out was also the importance of collecting data and using data to make sure that we are accurately providing interventions that work. There was a desire to see a whole of government approach or whole of government's approach across all governments working not just in the area of women's safety, but right across every portfolio where knowing that tackling domestic violence and sexual violence is actually everyone's business. That's the language that was being used. And of course in addition, making sure that states and territories and the Commonwealth are not duplicating, that we have integrated systems that we're all pulling in the same direction to really end violence against women and their children. So this was a really productive meeting. There was a spirit of goodwill in the room there was a spirit of resolve and a spirit of working together and commitment. So I'm very much looking forward to progressing the finalisation of our National Plan, and then getting down to work with developing the action plan. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: How do you do that you've got to take the state's methods and adopt nationally or do you have your own plan and bring it forward? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: In the development of the action plan, we've actually developed a cross jurisdictional task force that will work together on the outline and architecture of the action plan. This won't be duplicating states and territories, it will be using states and territories action plans that they have themselves and integrating them together. What was really clear though, is the work across governments to make sure we're all pulling in the same direction. The Commonwealth doesn't have all the answers, states and territories are all doing some things differently, but that what came out was there's a lot of commonality. So it's about pulling that commonality, getting that strategic vision in place and working towards it. And I'm very confident across the jurisdictions we're going to be able to do that.

JOURNALIST: Some of the feedback on the plan was that there weren't specific targets to track or tell if we were making progress, so we're going to be actual measurable targets in the final plan?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We haven't released the final plan, but certainly there was a desire to have a clear aspiration in the plan to make sure that the plan does have an aspiration to end violence against women and children. And of course, there are already targets that states and territories and the Commonwealth have signed up to like the closing the gap target of ending violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. So we are working towards what our aspiration looks like, what we want to achieve, but in addition to that, a lot of detail will be explored through the action plan. They are really important plans, their five year plans and that's what we'll be working towards.

JOURNALIST: Will there be any targets that you can actually measure?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We are finalising the details. But what was really clear from the states and territories and the Commonwealth is we want to have clear goals and aspiration in the plan.

JOURNALIST: And you want that plan finalised by October you said?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We are working, obviously each state and territory have different processes, cabinet processes to have to go through. But we have all set ourselves a task of getting that plan done by October.

JOURNALIST: When those targets are released, do you intend to make them public, so the public will have some level of knowledge of the accountability?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: In terms of the National Plan that will be public and the action plans will be public. This is work that we are not going to try and hide. As you've seen already, from the decisions I've made as minister, unlike the previous government, they chose to hide the consultation report the Monash report into the National Plan. I was very clear, one of my first actions as minister was to release that. We believe in transparency. The National Plan and what becomes greater than the National Plan and the associated action plan will be made public.

JOURNALIST: Would there be specific targets in the action plans rather than the National Plan? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: When it comes to targets, it is likely to be targets in both the National Plan and the action plan. We're working that through with the states and territories and we'll continue to do that. Got to keep in mind the National Plan is about a high level aspiration, making sure that we have a goal and that we work towards that. The action plan will have in the details and the steps that all jurisdictions will take to achieve that.

JOURNALIST: What would be a measure of success. You said that one woman dies every 10 days I believe at the hands of their partner or spouse. What would be a measure of success from this plan in terms of reducing that statistic? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: There's many statistics and of course, one of the things that we may see as a result of better services is increasing prevalence data because of course, it's a good thing if more women are reporting and seeking help. So we are working through the details of what success looks like, but ultimately, it's in the title. We have a commitment to end violence against women and children in this country. It may sound aspirational to some, but it is a commitment that we want to work towards.

JOURNALSIT: Is there something that you have to also canvass with law enforcement agencies? You know, you've got these targets, these goals, they’re at the front end. How do you work with them? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Part of the National Plan is about integrating whole of government approaches. So that is why some jurisdictions will be taking it through their cabinets so that they will be signed off by not just women's ministers, but of course, by their governments and that requires responsibility across government, not just the Women's Safety portfolio, not just in the services, but across all government. The National Plan will touch on four main areas. Firstly, it will touch on prevention. Secondly, what we'll touch on early intervention, of course, there's how we respond. And then there's recovering, healing. They are all equally important parts of dealing with this issue. And of course many of those areas, response in particular does deal with law enforcement. So we'll be working through all of those issues in the National Plan. So it does need to have a whole of government sign up and a whole of government response. 

JOURNALIST: One of the big issues for women fleeing domestic violence is access to housing. Was any progress made on that front at today's meeting? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Of course there are many issues that affect and can get in the way of a woman leaving and housing is one of them. And that is why Labor has been very clear in our commitment around building more public housing as part of Australia's future housing fund, that we will actually have specific places for women and children fleeing domestic violence, so that absolutely was addressed. Another barrier is not having family and domestic violence leave as an entitlement in your wages and conditions in your workplace. And that's why another part that Federal Labor is pursuing straightaway, is to introduce family and domestic violence leave. Ten days of paid leave into the parliament, so that women fleeing domestic violence don't have to choose between leaving and their job. This is a really important step. So progress has been made. And we certainly discussed all of that the states and territories.

JOURNALIST: Did you discuss coercive control legislation and specifically whether it would be better to have one set of national legislation because states are starting to go it alone?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: States and territories are responsible for coercive control legislation in terms of law enforcement. States and territories are absolutely responsible for delivering that, but there was a discussion to talk about how states and territories and other jurisdictions can learn from each other and work together and coordinate. So there was a discussion about how we can get coercive control, aligned and discussed and coordinated. And that's certainly something that jurisdictions indicated a desire to talk with one another about moving forward.

JOURNALIST: On housing, did you discuss with the states what can be done beyond the commitment that you made coming into government? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look, our focus today was on what is embedded in our National Plan, and what are the principles underpinning that, what are the drivers and what how do we need to respond on a high level way. Of course, as I've already said, housing has been something that we have discussed and addressed, but the focus has been on bedding down the National Plan.

JOURNALIST: What about penalties, last question, tougher penalties, is that something that was seriously addressed with all the ministers at the table in terms of their state laws and penalties for domestic violence, repeat offenders.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The focus was not on penalties. Today, the focus was on getting the framework of the National Plan, to make sure that we are all pushing together in the same direction. States and territories are taking action when it comes to law enforcement. States and territories also indicated they are taking action in terms of prevention and early intervention as well. We need to look across all those four areas if we are going to make a difference. If we ignore prevention, then we aren't going to achieve that goal of ending violence against women and children. It's just going to continue. So it has to be about prevention, just as much as early intervention just as much as response and just as much as healing and recovery. So these are important elements that we focused on and about how we get the framework right? 

JOURNALIST: Just on another matter, as South Australian Minister do you, and Social Services Minister, do you have a comment to make on the death of Charlie here, given that she was involved with Government Services?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The only comments I can make is it's an absolute tragedy. The story of Charlie and to her passing. My absolute sympathy goes out to all, everyone that knew her, everyone that's been affected by this. This is a devastating situation. But apart from that, I'm not able to make any other comments. Thank you.