Minister Rishworth discusses the National Plan to end violence against women and children 2022-2032 with Nour Haydar on ABC News


Topic: National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 

NOUR HAYDAR, HOST: Minister, thank you for speaking with ABC News. The Federal Government, along with states and territories, has released a National Plan which pledges to end violence against women and children within one generation - to start how many years is that?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: What we've made very clear in this is that it needs to end. Violence against women and children, including sexual violence, is just not acceptable and so our commitment is to say that we don't want our children and our children's children to be dealing with the same issues. So while I'm not going to give a specific number of years, it is a clear commitment that we need it to end, to draw a line in the sand and really have a very clear goal on what we're working towards.

NOUR HAYDAR: You say it needs to be a clear goal. How do you define a generation? Is that 20 years? Is that 30 years? Is it 50? That matters, does it not?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The National Plan is a ten-year plan. Obviously what that indicates is we will need sustained effort after this National Plan. It is one of states and territories, as well as the whole of society, the whole of communities. So we want to be driving change. But I think the key message here is we don't want our children and our children's children to be still dealing with this in the future.

NOUR HAYDAR: The previous National Plan, which was in place for 12-years, failed to achieve its key goal of reducing violence against women and children. What is the plan going to do differently?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: This plan has a lot of learnings from the first plan. It builds on some of the positive things that occurred as a result of the first plan, but it also looks at how we need to do things differently. Importantly, it provides a blueprint for states and territories, the Commonwealth, but also wider society on how we pull together and work in the same direction. I think that is really important. If we are going to end violence against women and children.

NOUR HAYDAR: Can we get into some of the specifics? Over the last decade, hundreds of women have been killed in Australia at the hands of a current or former partner, including my own mother. This year more than 35 women have lost their lives to violence. How will this plan prevent those deaths?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: This plan really tries to deal with four key domains. The first is prevention - that is a long term plan to get the attitudes of our community and our society to change. We need respectful relationships because we know that the views young people and older people have about gender-norms, affects violence. So that is part of the long-term vision. Of course early intervention is critically important to try and work with those who choose to do violence against women and children to intervene there but also look at other programs that can change attitudes and behaviours. Then of course there's response, that is the pointy end of how we respond appropriately to keep women and children safe. But a new part of the plan has been a focus on healing and recovery. And that is about recognising that it's not just at the point where a woman might try and leave that we need to pay attention to. While that is critically important, it is about recognising that violence can continue, that there is a cycle often with women going back to their violet partner. So that journey of healing and recovery is really important to break that cycle. If we focus on all four domains,  pushing equally than I believe that we can make a difference.

NOUR HAYDAR: In a practical sense, what will change in the way that we respond to the trauma that people who experience violence go through but also those who witness violence, like children who may or may experience that within the home?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Children are important to recognise as victims of family and domestic violence as well and so ensuring that they are properly supported is important. One of the key things in this plan is looking broader than just indicators such as prevalence, looking in the four domains about what could indicate success. So for example when it comes to recovery and healing, one of the key indicators that could be looked at is how healthy a woman that got out of a domestic violence situation, how healthy she reports. Another indicator in response is how well women are able to access a service when they need it. So there's a range of different indicators that will be up to be measured to show that we are making progress. Sometimes prevalence may go up, particularly in the area of sexual violence, which has been somewhat under-reported for many years. If prevalence goes up, that could be a good thing because people are feeling more comfortable to report. So we have to make sure that our indicators are meaningful and they do reflect the progress in a range of different areas.

NOUR HAYDAR: One of the main criticisms of the draft plan that was released by the Morison government was that it lacked clear and measurable targets. This plan doesn't contain any specific or measurable targets either. Why?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Firstly the plan does it show a number of things that could be indicators that are measured in the four different domains and I think that gives a bit of a flavour to people reading it about how we might get data, what we might start measuring data on. But the plan will be accompanied with an outcomes framework, which will have a range of different indicators embedded and will be measured with the data that's available. We'll be working with states and territories on that outcomes framework to make sure that data and what we're measuring is meaningful, that we have access to the data. So we could say we're going to measure things but if we don't actually have access to the data whether it's from the Commonwealth level, states and territories, then we won't know if we're making progress. So we'll be working on that outcomes framework with states and territories. But we do need to know if we're making progress. And we've definitely made a commitment to do that.

NOUR HAYDAR: You've also committed to a standalone National Plan for First Nations women who experience disproportionately higher rates of violence. When will that be released?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Under the National Plan there has been work already happening on two Action Plans. One being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan. The work being done on that is by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and that will provide a good basis for our standalone National Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. We want to make sure we get the consultations right on that. One of the strong messages coming up is that the unique experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders must be recognised. We have in this National Plan tried to embed the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within our National Plan. That shouldn't discount the need for a standalone Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander plan. We will be working to that, but work is going on now in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan. So that states and territories, along with the Commonwealth will be able to sign up for that and make sure that our resources are directed to the Action Plan.

NOUR HAYDAR: But, there's no date?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group are working on that. I want to be really clear they are being supported – but it is their work. I understand that they are working and have had a number of really successful consultations. But they are leading that work. And I think that's a really important model to have, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, service providers, men as well involved in that advisory group as they develop and work on the Action Plan.

NOUR HAYDAR: In next week's Budget, will the Federal Government commit extra funding to ensure that this plan has the best chance of success?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The next Budget will be available for everyone to see when the Budget comes out. But there have been a number of election commitments which we made that focuses on boosting frontline workers. That has been a really important issue and a commitment in our Future Australia Housing Fund to make sure that the house that a proportion of the houses we build are actually dedicated for women and children escaping domestic violence. We've also made a commitment to ensure that that the $1.3 billion that's in the Budget is properly targeted and focused on the National Plan. I think that's the key - there needs to be the resources, but the resources need to be working together and that's exactly why having a National Plan is so important.

NOUR HAYDAR: I would like to clarify, we know that violence against women costs the economy $26 billion a year. Frontline services say they need $1 billion annually. Is that a commitment that Labor is going to make?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We are going to deliver our election commitment as a starting point of more frontline workers, a boost to frontline workers. That is our election commitment. We will continue to work through the Action Plans to look at how we deliver and focus our resources on that. But as I said, it is about what the quality of spending in addition to the quantum. We need resources going in to frontline services, but also we need to make sure we continue to push on prevention and early intervention. If we don't push on early intervention, prevention, recovery then what we will see is just continuing to know more and more resources just for response. So we do need to be pushing in all four domains if we are going to see real change.

NOUR HAYDAR: Minister, thank you.