Holding the government to account on family violence - Terri Butler MP, Labor for Griffith

Holding the government to account on family violence

I asked the Minister for Social Services about the government's overdue Third Action Plan and Annual Progress report in relation to family violence. I also asked for an update about related issues.

Ms BUTLER (Griffith) (17:05):  I of course welcome the opportunity to ask questions of the minister in this consideration in detail process. I wanted to speak to the minister about the National plan to reduce violence against women and their children 2010-22which was introduced by Labor in government. The 12-year national plan was the result of the excellent report, Time for action, which was prepared and published by a very important group of people looking at the issue of family violence and domestic violence in Australia, headed by Heather Nancarrow

Under that plan, as you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, four three-year action plans were to be published. The period of the second action plan concluded at the end of the last financial year. The third action plan was due to commence in July 2016, some months ago now. In March, the government indicated that the third action plan would be released in mid-2016. I wrote to you, Minister, on August and received a response from you on 16 September advising that the third action plan is not expected to be released until after the ACT elections. The ACT elections have of course now passed, and we welcome the return of the Barr Labor government, but we are yet to see the third action plan. Minister, can you confirm whether we can expect to see the third action plan next week at the National Family Violence Summit? That was also Labor policy, which we announced way back in March 2015. We are very pleased that it has come into existence as a national summit to be held next week, and I would appreciate confirmation that it will be provided then. 

We also note that the 2014 plan for the evaluation of the action plans recommended that there would be an annual progress report. Since then there has been one annual progress report, but the progress reports are intended to be published annually, hence the name. Yet, more than 12 months later, we have not seen the next annual progressreport. I would ask that Minister Porter advise when the annual progress report 2015-16 for the national plan will be released. 

Mr Deputy Speaker, you will also recall that, when the now Prime Minister became the Prime Minister in September, a women's safety package was announced, and I would ask the minister to give us an update specifically from that package on the progress of the trial of the use of innovative technology to keep women safe, such as GPS trackers for perpetrators. How many GPS trackers have been provided to perpetrators? What other innovative technology has been used in relation to that measure under that package? Of the $17 million to keep women safe in their homes, how much has been spent and which organisations have received the funding? 

Mr Deputy Speaker, you would also be aware that during this year's election the coalition made some commitments in relation to family violence. On 12 May the coalition announced that $30 million of the $100 million set aside in the budget this year for the third action planwhich, of course, we have not seen yet and had not at the time the announcement was made—would go towards frontline legal assistance providers. At the time, the national spokesperson for the National Association of Community Legal Centres, NACLC, said:

It is difficult to understand why the Government would provide CLCs with some share of $10 million per year as part of this funding, but during the same period cut CLCs by 30% nationally. It is tantamount to paying for a new roof on a house but removing the foundations at the same time.

He described the amount of money as:

… totally inadequate amount for legal assistance services in the face of rising demand and funding cuts. CLCs alone are facing funding cuts of $34.83 million over three years from 1 July next yea

So I would ask the minister why the government is not, in its women's safety package and the third action plan funding that has been announced, reversing its cuts to legal centres. I would also note that, in relation to that funding that was announced on 12 May, there has been no publication, as far as I am aware, of where the money is going. Has the money been allocated? Which frontline services will be receiving the money? Will the money go to CLCs, FVPLSs, ATSILS or legal aid and, if so, which of those and how much will each receive?

There was another announcement during the election, on 21 June, where the coalition announced that $15 million of the $100 million set aside in the budget for the third action plan would go towards frontline services. I would appreciate it if the minister would confirm whether that $15 million was in addition to the $30 million that had been announced on 12 May, or whether it was part of that $30 million. The announcement said: 'The precise programs to be funded will be decided in conjunction with the states and territories.' I would ask that the minister advise how this money will be allocated, and what services will be funded using the $15 million.

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