Domestic violence is a crisis in Australia and it’s getting worse. In 2017, 53 women were killed by domestic violence. As of 8 December 2018, that number stands at 66.
Let that number sink in for a moment.
That’s one women killed every five days. And this number doesn’t include all the rapes and strangulations and attempted murders. It doesn’t include at least 18 children who have also been killed as a result of family violence this year.
Every single one of these deaths is heartbreaking. It must stop.
We know these numbers because of the incredible researchers for Destroy the Joint’s Counting Dead Women Australia, who record the devastating details of every death.
Unfortunately, the NSW Government is failing to treat this with the utmost priority and throw all available resources at this crisis. In NSW, we spend half of what Victoria spends on preventing family violence. Our women’s shelters are often, if not always, full. NSW is the only state or territory that has not signed up to and contributed funding to Our Watch, a ground-breaking organisation set up to drive nationwide change in the culture, behaviours and power imbalances that lead to violence against women and their children.
In 2016-17, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Pru Goward, said the Government spent $59 million on all homelessness services for women, including women’s refuges. But this is woefully inadequate and every day women and their children escaping violent men are turned away from refuges in NSW. If the government can spend $87 million per year on advertising, then surely we can make sure there is adequate investment in providing shelter to women fleeing violence at home.
Domestic violence experts are at a loss to explain the NSW Government’s recalcitrance.
Fortunately, we have a blueprint for the actions and investment needed to start the change.
Recently the NSW Women’s Alliance launched A Safe State, which is a comprehensive policy platform for preventing and responding to Sexual, Domestic and Family Violence. The Alliance is a group of NSW peak organisations and state-wide service providers working within the sexual violence and domestic and family violence field and is co-convened by Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia and Domestic Violence NSW. They are calling on all political parties to adopt the platform ahead of the NSW election in March next year.
These are the experts who deal with the crisis every day, who know what is needed to save and rebuild lives. Their platform has 49 key recommendations for funding, law and policy change including:
• Establishing an independent statutory body for the primary prevention of gender-based violence;
• Making education about gender-based violence a key priority in NSW secondary schools;
• Decriminalising abortion;
• An additional $310 million over four years for specialists domestic and family violence services;
• Development of a specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led strategy to prevent violence;
• An additional $1.7 million per year in funding for the NSW Rape Crisis Centre;
• An additional $25.86 million per year in funding for specialist women’s legal services and community legal centres; and
• Improved training for NSW Police Officers on how to respond appropriately to sexual, domestic and family violence.
The platform is based upon the fundamental principles that every person has the right to be safe and to live free from violence and government is responsible for ensuring that every person experiencing, or who has experienced, sexual, domestic and family violence is supported to heal, has a safe home and can access justice. Surely we can all agree to this?
We desperately need leadership from politicians to end this national shame. But right now it isn’t on enough MPs’ radar. It is time for all parties to step up and back the Safe State blueprint for change.
NSW Greens MP