Press Conference Launching the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032


AMANDA RISHWORTH, FEDERAL MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: I'm so pleased to be here with my state and territory colleagues responsible for women's safety to launch the next 10 year national plan to end violence against women and children, ending gender based violence in a generation. Ending gender based violence in a generation is an ambitious goal, but a goal that we can achieve if we all work together. And it's been an absolute pleasure to work with, so cooperatively, all the states and territories in developing and finalizing this national plan. This National Plan will drive effort, drive coordination, and importantly drive whole of community, whole of society response to gender based violence. Ensuring that gender equality as the precursor for violence against women and children is addressed. To make sure that we're covering all of the four domains to end violence against women and children; to focus on prevention, early intervention, response and healing and recovery. What we know is that if we don't focus on these areas equally, then we won't see an end to violence against women and children. Importantly there are some cross-cutting principles that are essential in achieving this plan. And we heard very strongly through the consultation, through the launch today, than holding those that choose to use violence against women and children to account is critically important. It shouldn't be left to the victim survivors to explain or feel shame when it comes to violence against women and children. It is about working with men and boys. It is about working on respectful relationships. It is about ensuring that businesses, community groups, sporting groups, everyone in the community has a role. So this is an ambitious plan, but it's an incredibly important plan and one that will help drive investment, drive response drive system change into the future.

NATALIE WARD, NEW SOUTH WALES MINISTER FOR WOMEN’S SAFETY: Thank you. Can I just acknowledge the work of all the colleagues here today and your magnificent ideas acknowledged in the National Plan. A lot of work goes into this. So all of those who have soldiered on for so long, have worked through this together, including at the Women’s Safety Summit and also to Anne Ruston, the former Minister. Working collaboratively together across Government’s is critically important to the success of seeing the end of violence against women and children in Australia and that's what we are all here to do today. In New South Wales, the Perrottet Government is leading the nation in this work. We have already 14 affirmative consent laws in New South Wales. We've heard loudly about what consent and education means to ending violence against women children. We have led the way in our funding for women's shelters, doubling the number of women's shelters in New South Wales. And we’ve ensured that we have legislative responses. We are the first in the nation to have introduced a standalone offences for coercive control as a criminal offence knowing that that is a contributor to domestic and family violence. In addition to working with our colleagues across the nation to ensure that we have this comprehensive response in this national plan where we'll be able to present across the nation working together. So I want to thank my predecessors in this area for the work that they've done and the present Government for ensuring that we have renewed funding in New South Wales in this area. I'm really pleased to be part of the government which in some areas is in the centre of ensuring that we are preventing family and domestic and sexual violence and that we’re all working together with our colleagues in Australia.

SIMONE MCGURK, WEST AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR PREVENTION OF FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: This ten-year National Plan is significant, not the least of which because it lays claim to a goal to end gender-based violence within a generation. And that's a very brave statement to make, but I hope that it indicates the level of ambition that this ten-year plan captures. But also our lack of tolerance for any sort of violence, whether that's family, domestic violence or sexual violence against women. That type of violence, family, domestic violence or sexual violence has been likened to a form of terrorism. And while that is also a bold claim, if we think about our lack of tolerance to any sort of terrorism in our community – we say that there should be none, we don't say that we will tolerate low levels of terrorism. We don't say that terrorism is acceptable in some circumstances. We aim to eliminate all forms of terrorism. Similarly, our ambition should be to eliminate all forms of family domestic and sexual violence in our community. This plan also represents a huge level of cooperation across the federal government and more states and territories. And I look forward from a Western Australian point of view to adding our effort as well as the effort of our whole community to that end.

KATRINE HILDYARD, SOUTH AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR WOMEN AND THE PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE: It is excellent to be here with ministerial colleagues from the Commonwealth, state and territory arenas. I am so proud that together we have launched today this National Plan. The horrific and persistent scourge of domestic violence in communities right across this nation is deeply disturbing, deeply unacceptable and a compelling call to action. Our desire to work together, our steadfast determination to work together, toward change as governments is really important as we tackle this horrific scourge. But we know that governments alone cannot be successful in preventing and ending domestic violence. We must activate every person in every corner of every community. We must activate people in business, in industry, in community organisations, in sporting clubs wherever we can to use their voice, their influence in our quest to prevent and end domestic violence to progress this ambitious plan. Achieving gender equality is a core part of this effort. We must eradicate the attitudes that lead to disrespect and violence toward women, toward harassment of women. We must shift those attitudes and that requires everybody's effort to do so. We want everybody to feel and to be safe when they are at home, when they are at work, when they're at school, when they're at university and also online. Shifting gender inequality is a key part of this ambitious National Plan and rightly so. Another part of this National Plan ensures that children and young people who are victims survivors are considered as individuals. We know the horrific intersection between domestic violence and contact with our child protection system. This also is a really important part of our plan. I say thank you to all who have collaborated to progress this plan and particularly, I say thank you to the victim survivors who have bravely, with such courage, such resilience shared their stories and their experiences. As we progress this plan, it will be crucial that their voices are heard, they are amplified and acted upon. Again, thank you so much to them and to everybody who has collaborated on the development and the launch of this plan today.

KATE WORDEN, NORTHERN TERRITORY MINISTER FOR THE PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC, FAMILY AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE: It's great to be here as part of the collaborative efforts by ministers from all over Australia. It’s really, really important that for the first time, this plan says that domestic family and sexual violence is not a women's issue. This has a huge sense of purpose in putting prevention and early intervention at the centre of everything that we will do as a nation. We need to make sure that perpetrators are held to account. We need them to also recognise their behaviours and also get them to seek that assistance and support that as governments we are committing to through this plan, particularly from the Northern Territory we are particularly very, very glad that it has a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women because in the Northern Territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 18 times more likely to be the victims of domestic and sexual violence. They are also 40 times more likely to end up in hospital as a result of that violence. So we really welcome that new focus. We look forward to the action plans that are coming as the work goes forward. And this is just the beginning. We're all heading in the right direction. And before I finish, I just want to, as a victims-survivor myself, I want to thank every single woman that has been part of this plan. It's a bold and brave step that they have taken to contribute to this plan. And I want to make sure that at this particular point in time that their voices have been heard. They recognise that their voices have been heard. And I want to say a huge thank you to those women that have done that. So the nation can move forward together. Thank you

SHANNON FENTIMAN, QUEENSLAND MINISTER FOR WOMEN AND THE PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE: I'm really proud to be joining my ministerial colleagues today to be launching this National Plan. Violence against women and children in this country is a crisis. But there's nothing inevitable about it and together, we can end it. Critically, this plan brings us all together to end all forms of gender-based violence - including sexual violence and also non-physical forms of violence such as coercive control. In Queensland as a community we're beginning to understand just how dangerous coercive control and those controlling behaviours can be, tragically as a result of Hannah Clark’s story. And the tragic loss of Hannah and her three children. We know as a community, we need to do more and the victim survivors, their own statement in this plan very clearly says they shouldn't have to die before we give them attention. This plan is Hannah's legacy and the legacy of all of those brave victims survivors is to have a system which recognises and responds to the red flags before more blue police tape surrounds another family member. And that is why we have put together this ambitious plan to end violence against women and children in a generation. To those victims survivors whose voices are front and center. We have seen you we have heard you and we have believed you we have listened and now we're taking action.

JOURNALIST: Minister Rishworth, how significant is it that you have all the state and territory representatives on board with this plan? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The significance of having state and territories all really willing and able to discuss and work together is so important when it comes to this plan. Because this needs to be whole of country, whole of government, different levels of government, as well as the wider society pulling in the same direction. So I was so heartened when I came into the role as Minister for Social Services, just to get together my ministerial colleagues, the passion and the commitment and the desire for change was palpable. And so it is critically important that we do work together, that we are pulling in the same direction. Because what victims survivors have said is they don't want to have systems that go in different directions. They don't want services going in different directions. They want everyone pulling in the same direction and to have every state and territory sign up for to the plan, but more importantly, show their commitment to address this has been incredibly important.

JOURNALIST: Will the Federal Government be committing extra funding to meet this huge societal issue? Will there be more funding going towards that?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: When it comes to the funding the investment will be driven by the Action Plans. Our government has already committed not only the $1.3 billion investment over the forward estimates, but also took a commitment to the election to invest and boost frontline services. And we'll be working through that with my state and territory colleagues over coming months. But this commitment along with the commitment to the domestic, family and sexual violence Commissioner these are all really important investments already and the Action Plans will continue to drive and ensure that the investment is going in the areas that make a difference. But I also would make the point that some of the change that needs to happen is within systems and within the broader society. And that's why I'm very pleased that the first action that the new Federal Government took was to introduce universal ten-days of paid family and domestic violence leave. That will go through the parliament and which will support ensuring that women don't have to choose between their job and leaving a violent relationship. So that is really important steps we're taking but the Action Plans will drive investment over the coming years.

JOURNALIST: Obviously with the sector in mind, will there be some form of shared financial independence between the Federal Government and the states and territories?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: What this does is it drives investment into the areas that make a difference. The states and territories in the different ways that actually already changing laws and driving investment, but we need to make sure we're all working together, that this investment works together. A number of the states and territories – I think all of the states and territories – have plans that drive that drive change, but making sure that we're all in alignment is critically important that the money, the role and the responsibilities. So it's not just the investment but the role and responsibilities are clear. And that's what this plan outlines. So it's a much more coordination and focused approach. But importantly it also shows that we're coming from a shared understanding. Gender inequality is one of the main drivers, the main driver that leads to gender-based violence and so it is important the shared understanding shared vision shared commitment. Work has already started on both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan and the mainstream Action Plan. And as a ministerial council, we'll continue to work through those Action Plans.

JOURNALIST: It's a ten-year plan, I guess what are the measures then to look at it as it goes? To measure whether or not it's working? m

AMANDA RISHWORTH: It is really important that we do have indicators that demonstrate whether or not we're making progress. The plan outline some of those potential indicators. The plan also will be backed up by an outcomes framework and work is underway to look at what are the measures that best represent progress, but also what are the measures that there is actually data to backup so these are critically important elements to make sure we're making progress. That work will continue on what that outcome framework looks like. But I think as Simone correctly outlined in our discussions before, we can't just always rely on prevalence because we want reporting to go up. But we do want instances going down. So making sure we've got the data that accurately measures the progress we want to make, whether that's in prevention, whether that's in early intervention, whether that's in response or healing and recovery. There's a range of indicators. We need to make sure we have access to the data and that is a continuing piece of work. But we do need to measure and we do need to demonstrate we're making progress.

JOURNALIST: Minister how significant is the problem of family and domestic violence in Australia?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Family violence is of significant, epidemic proportions. One woman dies every 10 days at the at the hands of their former or a current partner. So this is significant epidemic proportions. But of course, there's also not just those who die at the hands of a former or current partner, there's those that have been traumatised, whether it's physically or emotionally as a result of the violence that has perpetrated against them, whether that is in the home or whether that's sexual violence. This has a significant impact. So I don't think we can truly measure the collective impact that happens as a result. But we do know that many women experience sexual harassment, sexual violence, all this is gendered violence, and we do need to address it

JOURNALIST: In the plan it says across the board, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience disproportionately higher rates of violence then non-Indigenous counterparts. For example, they're 34 times more likely to be hospitalised. We heard earlier, this is 40 times more likely in the Northern Territory. Do you think it was a missed opportunity today to not include more Indigenous voices in this announcement?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We have been very clear about how we ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are embedded in this plan. There is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group that is developing the Action Plan that will be dedicated and ensures the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people women are heard and that has been a headed up by Professor Sandra Cramer. And of course, our commitment long term is to have a standalone Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Plan to ensure that across the board, the unique perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children are represented. So the work is critically important. We've made a commitment around closing the gap in terms of Target 13. And so we are absolutely committed to ensuring that there is not only a standalone action plan that has been developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves, but also that will be the launch pad for a national standalone plan.

JOURNALIST: When will that standalone plan be released? Do you have sort of a timeline?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We want to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to develop that plan. Obviously, an Action Plan is critically important to focus effort and resources. But in the long term that will rely on consultation and partnership with Aboriginal people themselves. So I'm not going to dictate a timeline but we are very conscious of the need for a standalone Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan that does focus resources, that does put the focus on these communities to make sure they get the support that they need. But in the long term a standalone National Plan is critically important.

JOURNALIST: Are you worried that states and territories won't agree on consistent targets and measures?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look, I think there's an absolute willingness to work out how we measure this. This needs to be done in consultation. And we can't pick measures that are not measurable or we don't have the data for. We need to work together and that's why there is a commitment to an outcomes framework. And I have no doubt speaking with my state and territory colleagues that there is a desire to make sure that we get the measurement right, that we can measure these things and that as more data or information becomes available, that is able to be an evolving document that can include additional and extra data and measures.

JOURNALIST: We've seen previous plans, previous governments, going as far back as former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, trying to address these issues. What are some of the key things for you that stand out as different to what we've previously seen?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: What we've previously seen when the first plan was at first an ambitious plan to try and end violence. Of course it didn't achieve that, but there's been a huge amount of learning since that time. So I think firstly, first and foremost, there has been a significant amount of evidence and research that has occurred in the last ten-years that we've been able to embed in this plan. I also believe the voice of victims survivors has been much more centrally put into this plan and that is a difference. But I think some of the drivers around gender inequality, holding perpetrators to account as well with the concept of what the added complexity that discrimination and inequality for some particular women face and how that increases their risk also has been properly embedded in this plan. The LGBTIQA+ community, their voices have been included In this plan. So I think this plan has benefited from significant amount of research, significant amount of evidence, a significant amount of learnings over our time. But I would also say and this important point was made to me, the focus on healing and recovery is new in this plan. And healing and recovery is incredibly important if we're going to help those that have been traumatised actually get back to living a life that isn't dictated or consumed by the violence that they have experienced. But also I think it's really important to recognize that it does help stop the cycle. It helps stop the cycle of violence, and that's critically important. So there's a number of new elements that have been included in the plan and I think it really has been led by victims-survivors as well as the research and the evidence.