Steps Taken To Curb Family Violence
While Australia can rightly be proud of its open and accountable democratic society,some aspects of our culture are not so laudable.
Of deep concern is family violence, the abuse of women and children; a scourge which, in Australia, is appallingly widespread.
Studies show that almost one in three Australian women experiences physical violence, while one in five endures sexual violence, and that domestic violence is the major cause of homelessness for women.
It is also well documented that abused individuals all too often become abusers, creating an unending cycle that wrecks families and ensuring such crimes will remain a blight on future generations unless young people are educated to prevent them occurring.
Family violence also comes with a huge financial cost.
Research by KPMG has found that violence against women will cost the Australian economy around $13.6 billion in the 2008-09 financial year, with the sum rising to $15.6 billion in 2021-22 if the problem isn’t tackled.
Concern about the scourge saw the Rudd Government honour an election promise and in May last year establish a council to develop a national plan to combat domestic violence and its consequences.
The move has borne fruit, with the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children recently releasing Time for Action, a document that proposes an action plan to be implemented from now until 2021 and makes 20 priority recommendations.
The plan seeks to ensure that Australia builds strong, safe communities free from violence; that children build respectful non-violent relationships; that services support women and children; that responses to violence are just; that perpetrators stop their violence; and that government and service delivery systems work together effectively.
Since receiving the document, the Rudd Government has committed to progressing 18 recommendations immediately and to developing a national plan to address family violence.
Announcing its decision, the Government said it wanted ‘all governments to come on board and, by early 2010, achieve an endorsed, national approach to reducing the incidence and impact of violence against women and their children’.
Some $12.5 million will be invested in a national telephone and online crisis service that will operate around the clock seven days a week and make referrals to follow-up services.
A further $26 million will fund primary prevention activities, with $9 million committed to improving and expanding ‘respectful relationship’ programs for those of school age and $17 million to fund a public education campaign to change attitudes and behaviours that contribute to violence.
Additionally, $3 million will support research on perpetrator treatment and consistent laws nationwide.
Also, the Government has asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to work with its State and Territory counterparts to examine the inter-relationship of laws relating to the safety of women and their children.
It plans a system of national registration to enable enforcement of domestic and family violence orders across State and Territory borders.
It also will seek to improve the uptake of domestic violence coronial recommendations and to identify the best ways to investigate and prosecute sexual assault cases.