Domestic and Family Violence

This morning I rise to talk about the Minister for Social Services's statement relating to family and domestic violence leave. I thank her for bringing such an important topic to the House for discussion. The reforms to family and domestic violence leave brought forward by the Labor government are on top of the measures put in place by the previous coalition government. In December 2018 the coalition enshrined five days of family and domestic violence leave in the National Employment Standards. We know those suffering family and domestic violence, particularly women and children, need avenues of support that allow them time to recover and do what is necessary to ensure their safety and that of their family. Family and domestic violence leave ensures that this can take place. It allows them time to put the relevant legal measures in place with police, if need be; to speak with financial counsellors; and to have time with family and friends to recuperate and make a plan to protect themselves and potentially their children as well.

As the member for Lindsay there is one statistic I am not proud of relating to my electorate. My community has some of the highest rates of family and domestic violence when it comes to the state of New South Wales. It is not a list you want to be top of. I thank, for their important work, the local women's shelters, the emergency housing providers and the officers of the social housing team at the local New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice Penrith office who every day—every single day—pick up the pieces of distraught families who need their care and support to escape violent and coercive occurrences.

I want to place on the record again my thanks to the police officers at the Nepean Police Area Command on general duties and those who specialise in assisting family and domestic violence victims. Recent statistics from the Nepean PAC demonstrate that domestic violence is the No. 1 issue impacting the Penrith community, with the last quarterly statistic up—not down—for domestic violence. I note that the Nepean command is working on a new system for domestic violence—a dedicated family and domestic violence arrest team.

My office and I regularly meet with family members impacted by family and domestic violence. It's always such a horrible feeling to have a family come through the door escaping a horrible situation and having nowhere to go but the local federal member's office. Each story is unique, each story is so extremely difficult and each story is heartbreaking. I want to ensure that each story is not just a statistic but is the start of another very important conversation on how to end family and domestic violence in Lindsay and across the nation. It is not just a conversation but a conversation that turns into action that makes a difference.

The coalition when last in government took strong action to address women's safety. In fact, we had a Minister for Women's Safety, Senator Anne Ruston. We expect that significant work to continue under this government. The first action plan on family and domestic violence has not been delivered—it has been delayed. I know these matters can be complex and need to be right and fit for purpose, but we do need to ensure that those impacted by such violence are given support now. The Albanese government at the election committed to the establishment of 500 frontline service positions to assist women in need of support. I really encourage this happening because the community needs it, and they want to know when it will be delivered.

The previous coalition government provided investment for women across the previous two financial years, including $3.4 billion in 2021 to 2022 and an additional $2.1 billion in 2022 to 2023. Specifically, this funding saw $1.3 billion for women's safety initiatives, support for women in leadership to drive positive change, boosts to women's labour force participation and improving women's health outcomes. I am proud that I secured funding for local caseworkers for the Penrith Women's Health Centre. They are frontline caseworkers really making a difference on the ground. That is really important. The thing is that it doesn't matter how much governments are investing—both coalition and Labor—because when you see domestic violence figures increasing in a community it means that the money that is being thrown at things is just not making enough of a difference.

Over a short period of time earlier this year we had two domestic violence related deaths in my community of Lindsay. That's two families and friendship groups—people that they knew—rocked with the loss of a loved one who was tragically murdered by their partner. Around one woman per week is killed by their partner or former partner. This statistic is harrowing. In 2021, 135 lives were lost due to family and domestic violence. There were an additional 27 on top of that last year. I would like to thank my coalition colleague and shadow minister for women, the member for Farrer, for her contribution to this ministerial statement. I do note the coalition's ongoing work and interest in the family and domestic violence space and with regard to associated leave mechanisms for workers impacted by such behaviour.

With leave adjustments being made to support more families, particularly women and young women workers, facing family and domestic violence, we need a leap in plans to stop the ongoing prevalence of violence impacting every single community in Australia. Whether it's in Lindsay in Western Sydney, remote communities of the Northern Territory or the North Shore of Sydney, we need more support to stop family and domestic violence. I know that each state and territory government is working towards eliminating it. We do need a strong overarching national plan in place that is suitable and will stop the perpetrators of all forms of family and domestic violence.

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