Domestic & Family Violence Funding barely scratches the surface
I rise to speak in support of this matter of public urgency. Senators spoke earlier today of the shocking murder of Hannah Clarke and her three young children. Tragically, events like their deaths at the hands of a parent and former partner are all too common. As legislators, we have the power to do more. That is why the announcement by the Minister for Social Services last week of only $2.4 million towards men's behavioural change programs has left me incredibly bewildered. The announcement is welcome, but it's only a drop in the ocean. The sector truly needs a lot more. On top of that, why is the funding only available in three states—New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia? The minister hasn't explained why the funding is so low and why the funding is limited to those three states.
Domestic violence is borderless, affecting every community and socioeconomic group across the nation. My home state of South Australia is desperate for more funding for behavioural change programs. One South Australian service, KWY, do incredible work helping Aboriginal families in South Australia. The safety of women and children is at the heart of everything they do. They provide specialist knowledge and culturally appropriate services to break the cycle of domestic violence. They run a specialised 12-week Accountability, Responsibility to Change, ARC, program, using cultural ways to engage Aboriginal men. But, incredibly, South Australia was left out of last week's announcement, and programs like the one run by KWY are at risk because of very little funding. Indigenous Australians are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised for domestic violence than non-Indigenous people—32 times!
If the government is really serious about tackling the scourge of domestic violence in Australia, it needs to get serious about providing the funding that prevention and support services ask for, and not limit it to three states. At the moment, it's barely scratching the surface, and the women and children who are facing this daily reality very much deserve so much more.