SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER
SHADOW CABINET SECRETARY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMMUNITIES AND THE PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE
LABOR SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
SENATOR NITA GREEN
LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND
WEDNESDAY, 21 APRIL 2021
SUBJECT: Domestic and family violence.
WEDNESDAY, 21 APRIL 2021
SUBJECT: Domestic and family violence.
NITA GREEN, LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND: Thank you everyone for coming today. My name is Nita Green and I'm a Labor Senator for Queensland, and I am here to talk about women's safety. It's an incredibly important issue for people living here in Cairns. And that's why I'm so pleased that Senator Jenny McAllister, our Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence is here today, to meet with local people and to discuss this very important issue. Today, we've organised and held a roundtable with organisations that are in this space and working incredibly hard. They cover services here in Cairns, but all the way through the Cape, out to (INAUDIBLE), out to Mount Isa and all the way down to Townsville. I can imagine that most of the time, they are feeling incredibly fatigued and tired. But they do such a good job of delivering important services to the most vulnerable people in our community. So, I want to thank them, firstly, for the work that they do, and I want to thank them for participating in this roundtable today. This roundtable was an opportunity for Labor to discuss what we need to do right now, urgent action, to help people still suffering from domestic violence. We know there's an opportunity right now, and we need to make sure that we take that opportunity to deliver the services that people need. But it's also an opportunity to talk about the longer term impacts, and I'll let Jenny talk to you about the National Plan and what we need to deliver long term fix this solution. I'm really, really proud today, to be standing next to Hayley Grainger from the North Queensland Women's Legal Service. The North Queensland Women's Legal Service was one of the first places that I went and visited when I became a Senator, because I knew that this is a problem that gets a lot of national attention, but we still need a local fix. This is a very personal and deeply passionate interest of mine and something that I've been campaigning on since I became a Senator. The Federal Government at the moment has failed to deliver the funding that people need to get this right. So what we are calling on from the Government is less milkshake videos, more services on the ground, more services that will deliver what people need here in Cairns, so that eventually we can say when a woman needs to leave, she has a place to go. Thank you. I'll hand over to Hayley.
HAYLEY GRAINGER: Thank you Nita. Hi everyone. I'm Hayley Granger and I'm the current principal solicitor of the North Queensland Women's Legal Service. I've been with the service for nearly 15 years now. So I have really noticed a huge increase in demand for our services and not just for our services but for (INAUDIBLE) and other services and those escaping domestic family violence. The COVID pandemic has obviously had a massive impact on services across the board. Speaking for our service in the last few months, we've seen more than doubling of calls. We're now taking nearly 250 calls a week from women who are trying to escape from domestic violence and family violence situations. One of the biggest problems though I think facing our society at the moment is housing, or lack of housing in Cairns, there is just nowhere for these women to go our shelters are full, our motels are full, our caravan parks are full. And when you have women that are living in their cars, and trying to navigate the legal system to become safe to keep their children safe, healthy and still at school, it's really, really difficult. So yes, we're calling on the Government to urgently recognise the increasing demand and, you know, fund these services so that women and children can be safe, which is what they deserve. Thank you.
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMMUNITIES AND THE PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE: Thanks so much Hayley and thank you Nita. Well, that is a very passionate description of the challenges that women are facing within in this area, and also of the stresses faced by the workers in these services who are daily overwhelmed by the demand for support. We are having an incredibly important national conversation about violence against women. Women are tired of discrimination, of the harassment, of the assault, and of the rape, and they are tired of violence in their home. What is needed is an ambitious and urgent response. So far the Prime Minister has shuffled positions, he has given a range of his front bench some new job titles, and he's formed a new cabinet sub-committee. That is not an adequate answer to the challenges confronting Australia. What is needed is a commitment to reverse the cuts that are presently coming down the front line towards services. During the COVID pandemic, the government provided funding, they said it was an initial payment. Although as it turns out, it's the only payment that has turned up. $27 million was provided to Queensland services and that money runs out at the end of June. The truth is, though, that the demand for services isn't going away. The pandemic hasn't finished. The health pressures, the social pressures, the financial pressures, that have driven a spike in violence during the pandemic are continuing. And services here are telling me that they are experiencing an enormous increase in demand. And the cases that are coming forward in many instances are more complex than cases that have been presenting in the past. And this is putting enormous strain on services. When a woman reaches out for help, she should not be turned away. Scott Morrison is going to present a budget in just a couple of weeks’ time, and the call I'm hearing from service providers in this area, is for more resources. The Prime Minister needs to make clear how he intends to provide the vital services to support women and their children who are fleeing violence.
JOURNALIST: Warren Entsch pointed to the Attorneys General's office knocking back for funding requests for (INAUDIBLE) shelter one of the key (INAUBIBLE) yesterday. And what do you say?
MCALLISTER: Well, it's always someone else's problem when it comes to the Morrison Government. So it doesn't matter whether it's quarantine or a vaccine rollout, it is always the Prime Minister looking to take zero responsibility. (INAUDIBLE) the old Department of Foreign Affairs, Nita will know more (INAUDIBLE) The Commonwealth are seeking to make a big deal with that he thinks the next national find. A good down payment would be to support a local service that people in the local community (INAUDIBLE)
GREEN: Just to add to that comment this is a very important service for Cairns and the Commonwealth has funded that service. They're choosing not to renew that funding. Now Mr. Entsch is out there trying to distract from the really main issue. And that's that he's not doing his job by advocating for that Commonwealth funding to be renewed. I've written to the Minister, the Commonwealth Minister, to ask them to renew that funding. And I haven't got a reply, yet. So what we know is that Mr. Entsch would rather put out media releases than actually do his job and fund important services on the ground. I don't think that's good enough for the local community.
JOURNALIST: Do you plan on reaching out to State Labor Colleagues just about why that's not (INAUDIBLE)?
GREEN: Well, look, I'm happy to do that. But what I want to know is what the Federal Government is going to do I sit in the Federal Parliament, it's my job to keep the Federal Parliament, the Federal Government accountable. And the State Government has allocated all of the funding that they were given from the Commonwealth Government. What Mr Entsch did the other day was mislead, mislead the community about the state of that funding. So what I want Mr. Entsch to do, is to correct the record on that funding, and to make sure that the Commonwealth funding that he is responsible for, is renewed.
JOURNALIST: We're seeing a young mother of three die, and her partner husband charged with murder, how illustrative is this tragedy of the need for better domestic violence services.
MCALLISTER: My thoughts go to all of the loved ones who've been (INAUDIBLE) experiencing (INAUDIBLE) grief today as a consequence of that (INAUDIBLE). This woman leaves behind three children as I understand it and this must be a (INAUDIBLE). We have to do better. It is not acceptable that almost one woman a week, is killed in Australia as a consequence of domestic violence. This needs to be resolved. There is a moment now, and an opportunity for our political leadership to take real steps to resolve this problem. There is a budget coming in just a couple of weeks’ time. The time for talking is over. We need real commitment and real action to tackle the scourge of violence, the epidemic of violence that is sweeping through our community.
Thank you everyone.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEILA STENNETT (MCALLISTER) 0436 632 388