Greens Support New Measures Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence

Today we supported new legislation to ensure apprehended domestic violence orders are recognised across state lines. 


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) [4.58 p.m.]: I speak on behalf of The Greens on the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Amendment (National Domestic Violence Orders Recognition Bill) 2016. The Greens support this bill, which will create a process for new domestic violence orders, known as apprehended domestic violence orders [ADVOs], in New South Wales to be recognised in other States and jurisdictions and, similarly, for us to recognise those from other States. While currently there is a framework for mutual recognition of domestic violence orders across States, this must be initiated by the victim or survivor through a court process. This bill seeks to address that issue.

I will address two key issues in relation to this bill and on the need for action to eliminate violence against women. The first key issue relates directly to this bill and the issue of enforcement. Given it would be expected that a much larger number of ADVOs will need to be assessed, it is crucial for the community to be reassured that additional resources and adequate systems are in place to ensure confidence in and the effectiveness of this new approach. As such, I ask the Attorney General to provide more detail to the Parliament about how enforcement will be undertaken, how breaches will be dealt with, and what mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that the public can have confidence in this system and its effectiveness across jurisdictions.

I also ask the Attorney General to show that it is adequately resourced. The second part refers to the need to not rely only on a justice response when dealing with the serious issues of domestic violence. This legislation comes from model laws adopted by the Council of Australian Governments [COAG] in December 2015. While The Greens recognise that New South Wales is the first State to take action to try to implement the laws, it is important to note that the impact of this change will not come into effect until the laws are passed in other States.

The Greens welcome this reform. It is a logical step to handling the serious issue of domestic violence across jurisdictions and boundaries, given the seriousness and urgency of violence against women in our community. However, it is crucial that we do not limit our action only to a justice response. We must undertake adequate investment and take a holistic approach to ensure that we prevent and eliminate violence against women and children. As stated by the member for Balmain, we must ensure that priority is given to victim and survivor support as well as to investing in changing community attitudes. It is highly questionable whether New South Wales is leading the way when it comes to prioritising these important areas.

When we are dealing with a plan to eliminate domestic and family violence, it is important to recognise the need to ensure an integrated, coordinated and collaborative approach and eliminate the root causes of violence. The Greens have long said that in addition to a justice response there must be an investment in violence prevention initiatives across all parts of society, including communities, schools, workplaces, businesses, sport and recreation settings, and the media. Funding is needed for targeted education programs in schools from early childhood to high school to build awareness of gender stereotyping, inequality and attitudes that encourage violence.

Funding is also required for community- and workplace-based initiatives to prevent violence and to foster respectful and equal relationships between men and women. We need to look at restoring and increasing funding to women-only specialist services, refuges and shelters, especially in rural and regional areas. We need to look at programs specific to addressing domestic violence with Aboriginal and migrant communities, as well as invest in trauma and informed support services for women and children that support and enable healing, including accommodation and post-crisis services. We must invest in skills development for community workers at the front line to support victims and survivors of domestic and family violence. We must move up the cycle of violence and invest significantly in preventive strategies and programs to identify and support those at risk. Speaking in May 2015, my colleague in the other place Dr Mehreen Faruqi, The Greens spokesperson for Women and Domestic and Family Violence, said:

In New South Wales the rate of domestic violence-related assaults rose by 1.9 per cent between 2009 and 2013. Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of death, ill health and disability amongst women aged under 45 in Australia and we can no longer ignore the fact that this type of violence is reaching epidemic proportions in this country.

She continued:

The uncomfortable truth is that we will only be able to tackle domestic violence in a meaningful way when we acknowledge its fundamentally gendered nature and we implement programs that address ingrained and prejudicial attitudes towards power and gender in society.

Violence against women is not inevitable. It is a human rights violation and we can work together to eliminate it. But we can only do that if we address the root causes of how this violence is perpetuated and ensure we recognise that having a holistic approach to responding to this urgent mission is the only way to address it. This includes having a justice response such as that proposed in this bill, as well as ensuring proper investment and adequate victim and survivor support. There also must be recognition of the need to change community attitudes. This is an issue that impacts on all women and on many families in our society. The Chamber must continue to urgently address it in a bipartisan way.


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