1 June 2020
Senator Rex Patrick has welcomed an announcement from the Government that a new inquiry will replace the botched Senate Inquiry into Domestic Violence 'with particular reference to violence against women and their children'.
The original inquiry, referred to the Senate's Legal and Constitutional Reference Committee, failed to seek any submissions, did not hold any hearings to listen to experts or make any recommendations. In the wake of a scathing dissenting report by Senator Patrick, Minister Ruston indicated that a fresh inquiry would be welcomed.
“I welcome Senator Ruston and Senator Payne’s announcement that a new inquiry will be established”, said Senator Patrick. “After listening to sector organisations, I remain concerned that the effect of COVID-19 will have a long-lasting impact and increase the risk of domestic violence within our community. At least 21 women have had their lives stolen as a result of domestic violence in this half of the year, a terrible tragedy that must be addressed.”
“We must do better, and I believe that we can by shining a light on the factors that continue to contribute to domestic violence and being resolute in taking action to combat those factors. We know that further reform is sorely needed. We need to make sure that future initiatives and programs are well targeted and go straight to the heart of the problem and address the areas where we are failing” Senator Patrick said.
Senator Patrick welcomed the Terms of Reference for the inquiry proposed to be conducted by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social and Legal Affairs. However, there is room for improvement as they do not directly address some policy failures and inadequate funding in the areas of access to affordable legal services and emergency and long-term housing.
“Furthermore there has been consistent concern expressed about the lack of training about domestic violence in the media and the judicial system and how that further impacts on domestic violence survivors and entrenches the cultural attitudes that contribute to appalling attitudes regarding domestic violence.”
“The ANROWS' National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey revealed that a number of attitudes are going backward. This is of particular concern and without being tackled will inhibit any real progress” Senator Patrick said.
“I look forward to working with the government to expand the Terms of Reference.”