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24 February 2020


Senator Rex Patrick today announced that he will seek to establish an urgent Senate inquiry to pressure all levels of Australian Government to take further action and commit greater resources to prevent violence against women and their children.

"The shocking murder last week of Hannah Clarke and her three children, is the latest tragedy in an all too repeated horror across our nation," Senator Patrick said. 

"As a father of two daughters, my heartfelt desire is that they are able to contribute and thrive in a society that values their opinion and provides them the opportunity to live free from harm and fear. I want my daughters, and all our daughters, and Australian women, to always be safe in their homes and as they go about their lives."

"Since becoming a Senator for South Australia in 2017, I haven’t spoken publically about family violence. I am personally aware and appalled with the grim statistics. Last week’s tragedy has brought home the ‘National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children’ is not delivering as intended and as a result I will propose an urgent inquiry by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee into family violence, especially violence against women and their children."

"In doing this I don’t want to just propose yet another inquiry. We know about the prevalence of domestic violence, we know its causes and contributing factors. We know its effect on health, its impact on children, its financial impact and its impact on the community. The dimensions of the problem are already clear and we don’t need to re-examine that. But we can look at where we can drive change in government policy, programs and resourcing to improve outcomes."

"Through this inquiry Senators will be able to directly pressure Governments on the steps they need to take and the resources that need to be committed now, that will eliminate domestic violence from Australian society. With strong commitment from Senators from all sides of politics, we can do all this and more." 

"As a priority it should undertake a speedy examination of the existing programs undertaken and funded by the Australian Government, state and territory governments and non-government organisations to reduce family violence. This would inform the Committee in its primary focus of identifying what now needs to be done and the resources required to drive and achieve real change."

"I intend to discuss amendments, additions or improvements to the proposed terms of reference with other Senators and parties, non-government organisations, and any other interested persons with a view to securing the widest possible, non-partisan support for this initiative."

"We all know the family violence statistics, and they are horrific - Hannah Clarke was the eighth woman murdered by her former partner in Australia this year."

"We all need to bang on the doors of government to demand real action."

"It is high time that all segments of Australian society, especially men, faced up to our collective responsibility."

Draft Senate motion

Senator Patrick

To move

(1)       That the Senate recalls the inquiries relating to family violence in Australia undertaken by the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee in 2014-2015 and 2015-2017, and the 2019 Auditor-General’s report on implementation of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010–2022;

(2)       That the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee inquire into and report, not later than 13 August 2020, on the problem of family violence with particular regard to violence against women and their children, including:

(a)       the adequacy, effectiveness and resourcing of policies, programs, services and responses to domestic violence across the Australian Government, state and territory governments, local governments, non-government and community organisations, business and the media; 

(b)       immediate and long-term measures that need to be taken to prevent violence against women and their children;

(c)     the effects of policy decisions regarding housing, legal services, and women‘s economic independence on the ability of women and children to escape domestic violence;

(d)     how the Australian Government and state and territory governments can best support, contribute to and drive the social, cultural and behavioural shifts required to eliminate violence against women and their children; and

(e)    any other related matters.