Combating the scourge of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic

Combating the scourge of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mrs McINTOSH (Lindsay) (14:42): My question is to the Minister for the Environment representing the Minister for Women. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison government is increasing resources available for , particularly during the coronavirus pandemic?

Ms LEY (Farrer—Minister for the Environment) (00:00):   Can I thank my friend and colleague the member for Lindsay and note her leadership in her community of Western Sydney, not just with the coronavirus pandemic but also throughout the bushfires, where I met with her community earlier this year. Thank you for the question. Unfortunately, while for many people working from home is tedious, annoying and frustrating—we see the anecdotes often on social media—for many, particularly women, at home is not a safe place to be. The increasing concerns around financial security; being in an enclosed environment, perhaps with a perpetrator of domestic violence, and all of the associated challenges; and the difficulty of being able to access the services you need all create a unique pressure that has been very important for this government to recognise.

We have made the biggest ever Commonwealth investment, $340 million, in the national plan, the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022, but we have now added $150 million. My colleagues in the other place the Minister for Families and Social Services and the Minister for Women have led the COAG Women’s Safety Council and provided, immediately, $32½ million to the states and territories, to provide the services that they need.

While that happens, a further $97½ million will be allocated as we all work together to see what is needed. Services do need to be able to continue to support those in need over the next six months: emergency and crisis accommodation, counselling and outreach, men’s behavioural change services, and responding to the unique challenges of rural and regional women. All of these things matter. What I want to say is that while you may feel isolated in your home—and, indeed, we understand that—the services are there. The help is there. You must ask for help. It may be via telephone; it may be via the web; it may be via 1800RESPECT. But all governments are there to support women and indeed all victims of domestic violence in these challenging circumstances. The national information campaign was part of our funding, and that, again, will encourage people to go to the right place to reach out for help.

We’ve enacted supports. The Treasurer has talked about the JobKeeper program, because financial independence adds to women’s security. The Minister for Education has talked about access to schools and access to free child care. All of this supports women in challenging situations. All of this adds to the package and the determination of this government to make sure that, during the challenging months ahead, no-one is left behind.