Jenny Leong MP asks to Premier to prioritise response to Domestic Violence

Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown has asked the Premier to take real action on Domestic Violence, given that on average 1 women is killed by her current or former partner every week in Australia.


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (15:10:46): My question is directed to the Premier. Given that, on average, one Australian woman is murdered by her current or former partner every week, is she satisfied that the current level of priority and resourcing for domestic violence services in New South Wales is adequate to protect women from being killed in this State?

The SPEAKER: This is a serious question. The Premier will be heard in silence. The Premier has the call.

Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN (WilloughbyPremier) (15:11:11): I thank the member for Newtown for her question. Across the State and across the nation we were all shocked to the core by the tragic deaths of Hannah Clarke and her three beautiful children. It brought home to us the devastating impacts of domestic violence. If you look at the statistics, too many women—and men—are impacted. Unfortunately, elder abuse is also a big problem now. The numbers are way too high. Of course, all governments can do better. That includes our Government.

It is important to put on record the priority that our Government has given to dealing with domestic violence issues, not only by way of protecting and saving lives but also by ensuring that perpetrators are dealt with in the best possible way. I pay credit to the previous Minister, Pru Goward, who worked on ensuring that domestic violence received whole‑of‑government priority. I understand that she was the first Minister whose portfolio was specifically dedicated to domestic violence in New South Wales. I also commend the actions of the Attorney General, Mark Speakman, who is very passionate about the issue of domestic violence. He has been at the forefront of debate on the issue within both government and policy areas.

In case members have not seen the Premier's Priorities, I advise them that I identified domestic violence as one of the priorities that I want to focus on and that I want the Government to focus on. As part of the Premier's Priorities, we have set ourselves an ambitious target to reduce the incidence of domestic violence reoffending by 25 per cent. Unfortunately, domestic violence offenders have a tendency to reoffend. In the first instance, we want to address that target. Obviously, we will also look at ways to reduce the incidence. Although the incidence of domestic violence reoffending is declining, we must do more and ensure that all people in the system are protected. I am especially proud of the work that the New South Wales police commissioner did—

Ms Jenny Leong: Point of order: My point of order is taken under Standing Order 129. I appreciate that the Premier is outlining what the Government has already done. All members who pay attention to domestic violence will be thoroughly aware of the Government's current measures. My question is: Is the Premier satisfied that those measures are sufficient to stop women being killed in this State?

The SPEAKER: The Premier has the call.

Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: In case the member for Newtown did not hear my comment, I said that all governments must do better, including our Government—absolutely. I think that was the first statement I made. However, I am addressing why we have taken a whole‑of‑government approach and why we have made domestic violence a Premier's Priority. When a matter is designated a Premier's Priority, all agencies—irrespective of where they sit in government—must aim towards the target because the priority spans a broad range of social issues. Domestic violence is relevant to education and health. A number of Ministers have partial responsibility for this important area of public policy.

I am heartened by the fact that we not only are addressing the social issues that contribute to the scourge but the police commissioner in his former capacity dealt with domestic violence as a priority within the NSW Police Force. He has been instrumental in ensuring that victims can be protected and have the courage to talk about their experience so that people who are offending are dealt with appropriately in the justice system. New South Wales joined Our Watch last year, which is an important organisation with a national approach to dealing with this issue. No jurisdiction has all the answers and we need to identify what is working in certain jurisdictions and apply that across the board. We have introduced legislation and reforms around how perpetrators are held to account and ensuring that victims have the courage to get assistance.

I also commend Ministers involved with supporting victims with accommodation and other support services. We are looking at all those issues to ensure that people have the courage to get out of a relationship if and when they have to so they do not have to confront those ongoing issues. Often concerns for the safety of their children, ensuring they have a roof over their head or economic freedom are all challenges that contribute to someone feeling they cannot change their circumstances. I thank the member for Newtown for her question and stress that of course all governments can do more.

Unfortunately, it is tragedies like this that prompt all of us to think about what more we can do. I assure the member that, whether it is through the justice system or through the social services we provide, we do have a whole-of-government approach. We have targets that we have set. Can we do more? Of course we can. By looking at best practice around Australia and around the world, we can ensure that New South Wales is doing its best to reduce these incidents. Whilst the vast majority of victims are women, we should also be mindful that domestic violence unfortunately affects other people in the family.

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