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19 May 2020


Senator Rex Patrick has strongly criticised the Senate Committee charged with the responsibility of conducting an inquiry into domestic violence with particular regard to violence against women and their children that he championed in the Senate on 26 February 2020.

"The Committee failed itself, the Australian public, Hannah Clark and her three beautiful children, Aaliyah, Laianah, and Trey and all victims of domestic violence, past, present and future," said Senator Patrick.

The Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee inquiry into domestic violence was due to report by 13 August 2020. The report has been released today.

"The Committee is reporting three months ahead of time and doing so without seeking a single submission and without holding a single hearing. This is extraordinary, and somewhat unprecedented for a Senate inquiry," Senator Patrick said.

While the inquiry was not intended to ‘reinvent the wheel’ it should have analysed what is and isn’t working and where improvements could be made. To do this it needed to hear from sector experts and listen to their views and hear where improvements could be made.

"Instead of making substantive recommendations for action, the Committee has merely posed questions. The Committee members squibbed this completely," said Senator Patrick. 

In his dissenting comments, Senator Patrick said the Committee "did not discharge its responsibility to the Senate and, more importantly, the public ... And it failed in its duty in the shadow of the most horrific recent incidence of domestic violence, the death of Hannah Clarke and her three children, and in the context of an increase in occurrence of domestic violence as a result of COVID-19 related disruptions, and as the United Nations is urging all governments to 'make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19'."

"The Senate Committee had an opportunity to make a significant contribution to efforts to combat domestic violence in Australia. It conspicuously failed to do its duty."

"When proposing this inquiry February, I called on all Senators to bang on the doors of government to demand real action. Sadly, the Committee failed to even knock."

The text of Senator Patrick’s dissenting report can be found here.