Bonnie Support Services

Bonnie Support Services

Will this makes things better?

When you head up a domestic violence service you can be asked pretty soon after an announcement “So Ms Phillips do you have any comments, has the government done enough?” Recently, Mike Baird, the Premier of NSW, said “Domestic violence is a plague that needs to be eradicated across this state and country. No one should have to live in fear of their own home.”

They were strong words. With those strong words Mr Baird also announced a $60 million dollar program of projects to “eradicate the plague” of domestic violence and sexual assault in NSW.

Mr Baird’s announcement followed the $100 million funding announcement by the Turnbull government two weeks before.  I welcome all these announcements.

Everyone everywhere, I hope, will applaud Mike Baird’s $60 million dollar announcement. The NSW government is saying that if you are beating up your partner you are no better than an armed robber. At last!

The $60 million will buy the citizens of NSW:

  • Six police teams who will track the state’s most violent and repeat domestic violence perpetrators
  • GPS trackers for perpetrators and extra security for women at home.
  • 24 (extra) domestic violence liaison officers
  • $20 million in behaviour change programs for domestic violence offenders who are at serious risk of reoffending.
  • Rollout of Australia’s Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme in Oxley, Shoalhaven, St George and Sutherland.
  • $20 million to women’s refuges and homelessness services for extra emergency accommodation and 24/7 on-call services.

And yes, since these announcements were made, I have been wondering if it will be enough?

Though to me, this question is really asking, ‘Is this the cure, will the deaths and assaults stop happening now? Will we start eradicating things now?’

I think all the initiatives are very worthy. And we will need more – that’s just the nature of a plague. May NSW government and community never become indifferent to the suffering of women and children in our state.

However, I have wondered if it could also be the case that Mr Baird uses the term ‘plague’ in a political sense, feeding his dream of “eradicating” domestic violence and sexual assault may well conjure up for him a marvelous moment when his government’s political power can be exercised to overcome this plague. Will this be the case?

Over many years I have learned about the tremendous journeys of women rebuilding lives following the fall out from domestic violence and sexual assault.  Really hard journeys for some of them. Some of course we know did not make it. And I agree with Elizabeth Broderick who said in June this year “Addressing gender inequity is not only right but makes good business sense and makes sense for our future prosperity.” Women rebuilding lives during and after living with domestic violence needs this prosperity.

So if I am then asked, as you can be in my position, “What do you think government needs to do next?”, I would say – “Keep focused on resourcing new programs, listen to women more, respect women. Help the community to understand what each and everyone of us can do to prevent, and or report domestic and sexual violence.”

At the big picture level, my tip to Mike Baird’s and Malcolm Turnbull’s governments is to improve gender equality in Australia. I suspect it is a precondition to the full eradication of the “plague”.

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