Experts welcome domestic violence package, but call for further measures

PM after domestic violence national cabinet

Source: X/Anthony Albanese

Domestic and family violence experts and charities have welcomed the $925 million package from the national cabinet, but have called for greater surveillance of perpetrators of violence against women, funding for frontline workers and a clear path forward.

The package included funding for $5000 in cash and services for women trying to remove themselves from harm.

It also incorporated the introduction of laws banning the spread of deepfake porn and AI-generated graphic images, and an online ad campaign addressing misogynistic stereotypes.

Dr Kate Seymour, a social work and criminology academic at Flinders University, said while it is important that programs like the Leaving Violence pilot are funded, further action is required.

“There’s a need to look at the bigger picture and rethink the way that services are structured and funded because otherwise, we will continue doing more of the same,” she said.

“A lot of what came out of national cabinet focused on women escaping domestic and family violence through financial payment or access to housing, but that’s a tiny slice of the pie.”

She said solutions and funding for domestic and family violence were increasingly linked to housing.

“It means that often the solution is pitched as an accommodation issue, where if a woman had alternate housing, then she’ll leave,” Seymour said.

“It’s silly and short-sighted and undercuts the complexity of family violence and the fact that a woman may not want to leave or may fear leaving.”

Intimate partners killed 34 women across a year-long period in 2022-23, according to data from the Australian Institute of Criminology.

Focus on the perpetrators

Donna Chung, chair of the Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing board, said it was an important step to ensure women had financial support when leaving an abusive situation, but further support was required to ensure they were safe.

“How are you going to keep eyes on the offender when she leaves the situation because she is at increased risk of stalking?” Chung said.

“It has to have an accompaniment which recognises the level of high risk that’s posed when women separate and leave the situation.”

She said it was important that authorities surveilled men who committed domestic and family violence to ensure they didn’t harm their victims further.

“It’s a difficult thing to do because that moment, we don’t have eyes on them and most domestic and family violence incidents are not reported to the police,” Chung said.

“We need to be able to monitor them and share information about them so people are aware of how dangerous of risk they pose to others in terms of imminent harm.”

Charities such as Mission Australia have called for greater funding for frontline workers to give women access to specialist support.

Anthony Albanese promised 500 front-line community workers before the last election, but it has yet to eventuate. Photo: AAP

No royal commission

Although some have called for a royal commission into violence against women, Chung said it was important to act now and not wait for further reviews when the issue had been laid bare in previous forums and inquiries.

“A royal commission is a massive amount of resources going into something that could go directly towards helping people,” she said.

“What we need are really clear action plans that have appropriate levels of resourcing and cover a decent period of time.”

Seymour agreed that “we don’t need any more royal commissions”.

“We need to start making those connections and pulling it together, rather than more money, talking and rehashing what we already know,” she said.

“There’s a lot of knowledge that already exists.”

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