Domestic Violence in Australia

Credits:   Sydney Sims     @fairytailphotography/Unsplash

Credits: Sydney Sims @fairytailphotography/Unsplash

By: Jade Davies

Hi, my name is Jade Davies. I grew up in rural Victoria and am currently studying a Bachelor’s in Criminology. I have chosen to write about this topic because it affects so many Australians but only recently has the Australian government started to address the issue head on. Our goal is to provide a simple way to get informed about various topics. We strive to provide a balanced overview but always encourage you to critically engage, read more broadly and verify sources of information before deciding who to vote for. Enjoy!


Summary of Domestic Violence in Australia:

“Domestic and family violence occurs when someone who has a close personal relationship with you makes you feel afraid, powerless or unsafe. It can be physical but can also be emotional and psychological. Anyone can experience domestic and family violence. It happens across communities, ages, cultures and sexes.” - Lifeline Australia

So many people around Australia and within your community are affected daily by domestic violence.

Only recently has Australia been made aware of the striking rates across the country, and only now are we seeing political parties address the situation pre-election.

So why all this attention? Why bother trying to solve the issue?

Most importantly, it affects the lives of too many Australians. Intimate partner violence is a leading contributor to illness, disability and premature death for women aged 18-44.

Violence against women is estimated to cost the Australian economy $22 billion a year. This includes lost work days, medical costs, child protection services, legal costs, police, and victim support services.

 “I think we should try to stop domestic violence just because the human race should behave better than that, but there is no doubt the economic cost to our community is unacceptable” – Carmel O’Brien, Blame Changer (2016)

Here are some of the most shocking facts about domestic violence in Australia:

Domestic violence creates complex economic issues for victims and their families, with many experiencing financial stress or poverty as a result. Luckily, for Australia we have a magnitude of support services ready to assist those in need.

When a domestic violence victim reaches out for help, support services are in place to help assist with protection, housing and counselling. However, such services rely heavily on government funding and currently, there is a lack of.

YOUR VOTE MATTERS! It could mean the difference between the amount of funding services and victims receive, or whether they receive any funding at all. All major parties have spoken out about domestic violence and their plans to address to ongoing issue in the 2019 election.

Below we’ve complied what each party has done and proposes for the 2019 election, so take your time to read through each and see what areas of domestic violence each party is addressing.

Let’s Compare:

Liberal Party of Australia

What they have done so far:

  • Since 2013 the Liberal Party have invested $512 million on programs that directly supported women and children who are victims of, or at risk of, domestic, family and sexual violence.

  • They have introduced reforms to the family law system to stop domestic violence victims being cross-examined by perpetrators.

  • Introduced a new minimum standard of 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave.

For the upcoming election they have promised:

  • $328 million investment in the Fourth Action Plan, supporting key agencies, research and victim support, bringing total investment to $840 million.

  • $78 million to provide safe places for people impacted by domestic and family violence.

  • $82 million for frontline services, including investments to improve and build on the systems responsible for keeping women and children safe, such as free training for health workers to identify and better support domestic violence victims, and the development of national standards for sexual assault responses.

  • The Coalition will investment $64 million in 1800RESPECT to support the service, which has rapidly grown in scope as more Australians find the courage to seek help and advice.


Australian Labor Party

What they have done in the past:

For the upcoming election they have promised:

  • $660 million investment in the Fourth Action Plan to prevent and respond to family violence.

  • $88 million Safe Housing Fund to deliver transitional and emergency housing for women and children escaping violence, older women at risk of homelessness and young people exiting out of home care. They will also construct 250,000 affordable homes, helping women and children escaping family violence to quickly find stability and rebuild their lives.

  • Four-year plan for 20,000 Flexible Support Packages so that financial barriers aren’t the reason victims are trapped in a violent relationship.

  • Domestic and family violence services to help domestic violence victims tailor packages to meet demands such as rent, furniture, transport, medication, home security and transport costs.

  • Legislating 10 days paid domestic violence leave as part of the National Employment Standard, because people experiencing family violence should not have to choose between leaving a violent relationship and keeping their job

Australian Greens

The Greens are proposing:

  • A progressive 10-year funding plan with a major cash injection to tackle the nation’s scourge of domestic violence.

  • $2.2 billion-dollar investment over four years in domestic violence response services.

  • $200 million over four years to a Survivor Grant fund, which would give up to 50,000 family domestic violence survivors grants of up to $4000.


Nationals

The Nationals have proposed a pledge to safer regional communities. They aim to protect and support women and children through domestic violence programs and driving cultural change.

The Verdict:

Overall, all the major parties are looking to address domestic violence in the upcoming election.

Some are focusing more on the victims, while others on the services provided to them. The Liberal Party is focusing more on frontline services and improving the systems responsible for keeping women and children safe.

The Labor Party however is focusing more on supporting victims through housing and economic security. In the past, the Liberal Party have implemented a 5 days leave for victims of domestic violence, and in this election the Labor party is promising 10 days.

Fair Agenda has worked alongside other key organisations to produce this visual scorecard of how the parties stack up against a variety of related policy issues.
 

But is this enough?

Following the 2018 federal budget, “key organisations – including Domestic Violence NSW, National Association of Community Legal Centres, No to Violence, Fair Agenda and the National Foundation for Australian Women – have expressed disappointment in the lack of funding dedicated to family violence generally, and specifically to the services required by women and children to safely leave abusive relationships.

These organisations are calling on the federal government to match the Victorian Government’s $1.9 billion funding commitment.”

Learn more about this here.

When deciding on who to vote for these are some questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • Where do you want the national funding to go?

  • How many days should victims receive paid leave for?

Unfortunately, domestic violence is an issue that is not going to be solved overnight but, hopefully, with help from the government and your vote, it is an area that will see more support than ever.

“We all have the opportunity to change the narrative and uphold the inherent worth and dignity of each person”The Salvation Army

 

Key Stakeholders:

  • Australian Institute of Criminology: Australia's national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice. They seek to promote justice and reduce crime by undertaking and communicating evidence-based research to inform policy and practice. https://aic.gov.au/

  • Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited (ANROWS): is a not-for-profit independent national research organisation, providing support for policy makers and key government officials. https://www.anrows.org.au/

  • Berry Street: advocate for increased government investment in early intervention and prevention services that enable families to be safe and stay together.https://www.berrystreet.org.au/


Further resources:

PodcastUnlady-like: Episode 10 - Rosie Batty did everything victims of domestic abuse are told to do, but she still faced the worst possible outcome. Her response to tragedy shaped a national conversation in Australia, sparked major reforms, and led to a completely unexpected new life.  

A Current Affair Australia – Domestic Violence Crisis

Book – Blame Changer: Understanding domestic violence, 2016.

Australian Government - Domestic Violence - ‘Stop It At The Start’ Campaign

Let’s change the story: Violence against women in Australia

The Salvation Army

White Ribbon

Fair Agenda: Fair Agenda is a community of 37,000 Australians campaigning for a fair and equal future for women.

Lifeline - Domestic Violence

Please if you are concerned for the immediate safety of someone else or yourself:
Call 000 for emergency assistance or contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) the national sexual assault, domestic violence and family violence counselling service.