Around one in four women have experienced violence at the hands of a partner since the age of 15, and an estimated 25 per cent have experienced emotional abuse by a partner. Indigenous women and girls are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence related assaults than other Australian women and girls.
The Senate Inquiry into Domestic Violence has released its final report. This is an important milestone for addressing this crisis that’s in our homes, and the government must act. Join us in calling on Prime Minister Turnbull to implement all of the Senate Inquiry's recommendations.
By the numbers
112 women were homicide victims in 2007-08 in Australia, and of these women 62 (55%) were killed by a partner or ex-partner.
In 2009 it was estimated that domestic and family violence and sexual assault perpetrated against women costs the nation $13.6 billion each year. By 2021, the figure is likely to rise to $15.6 billion if extra steps are not taken to address violence against women.
The current response
While the Government's commitment to $1million for White Ribbon is welcome, it must be recognised that much more will be needed to drive the deep cultural change needed to tackle DV. The total federal budget for women's safety (which includes the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Their Children) was $29.5 million for 2013-14.
By way of comparison, when the federal government in 2011 decided to prioritise improving services and social awareness and acceptance of mental health issues, they put $2.2 billion towards the problem.
The Greens recognise that tackling domestic violence requires a comprehensive and holistic community response. We support the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Their Children, but share the concerns of many groups working in the sector that the Plan needs to be implemented more rapidly.
Where the Greens stand on Domestic Violence
Domestic and family violence is the most commonly reported reason for accessing homelessness services in Australia across the population (26%), most especially amongst female clients (36%).
The National Strategy has identified that increasing access to safe accommodation is critical to protecting at risk women and children from domestic violence. Yet Australia currently has a gap of more than 500,000 affordable and available rental properties - and the Government has no plan to fill this gap. In fact, the Government's business-led Commission of Audit recommends the Government step back from tackling housing affordability, which is alarming. The Greens are calling on the Government to urgently confirm its commitment to the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) - where funding for 12,000 new dwellings is currently in doubt.
Our plan will spend $100 million over 2 years on capital works for crisis accommodation to build more shelters, premises or other projects as required to make sure no-one is left without a place to stay.
The Greens would build long-term affordable housing to clear the bottleneck in the system with our fully costed 10-part national housing affordability roadmap, including immediate construction of 14,500 affordable dwellings funded by changes to negative gearing.
The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Their Children recognises the importance of enhancing women's economic independence as part of protecting women and children from DV. And yet incredibly this Government has sought to axe effective employment programs of vulnerable young people - of particular concern if this reduces economic opportunities for young women, who are at greater risk of violence than older women, and make it harder to access Newstart, Youth Allowance and the Disability Support Pension which risks preventing vulnerable women and children from escaping dangerous living circumstances.
The Greens want a society where when someone finds themselves in a dangerous or vulnerable living situation together we give them the support they need to get back on their feet.
That's why we currently have legislation before Parliament to increase Newstart and Youth Allowance by $50 per week to help people find secure work.
We are also committing to providing better support for single parent by ensuring they remain eligible for parenting payments until their youngest child turns 16, rather than the current limit of 8 (imposed by former PM Howard in 2006). This will provide stronger support for single parents to raise their families while they're working or studying, and will help keep families out of poverty and give particularly vulnerable families, a better start in life.
We would also make our workplaces safe by providing 10 days of paid domestic violence leave as a right for every worker.
Funding for services
The Greens will create a new National Partnership Agreement on Domestic Violence and Violence Against Women for specialist services such as crisis phone services, women's shelters, training for service providers, counselling, perpetrator interventions, and other specialist domestic violence services.
Our plan will also roll out perpetrator interventions including men's behaviour change programs and early intervention "system design" programs worth $128 million over 4 years within the new National Partnership Agreement.
Thirdly, we would fund a national peak body for specialist domestic violence services with $8 million over 4 years.
The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Their Children also recognises the importance of ensuring accessible and equitable justice for women and their children who are subjected to DV.
The old parties are failing the hundreds of thousands of Australians who currently have unmet legal needs. Access to the legal system is becoming less and less attainable for many Australians, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the unemployed and single parents.
The Greens believe justice must be accessible for all Australians - not just those who can afford expensive legal fees. The Greens are committed to increased funding for legal assistance by at least $200 million per year, including $144 million over 4 years and secure long term funding for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, and increased funding for CLCs, Legal Aid and ATSILS.
We would make family law safe, with a $60 million package to implement the Safety First in Family Law plan from Women's Legal Services Australia.
The Greens would also support State and Territory governments who chose to roll out specialist domestic violence courts with $5 million over 2 years.
Supporting Indigenous Women
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience higher rates of violence than other women in Australia, with various studies finding that Aboriginal women experience rates of domestic violence between 5 and 45 times higher, and rates of sexual assault 16 to 25 times higher, than among non-Aboriginal women.
Tragically, despite representing just over 2% of the total Australian population, Indigenous women accounted for 15% of homicide victims in Australia in 2002-03.
The Australian Greens are committed to doubling funding to indigenous family violence prevention programs and increase funding to indigenous legal services by 50 per cent to improve access to justice for indigenous Australians, through organisations including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.