HON ADELE FARINA (South West) [11.10 am] — without notice: I move —

That this house notes the measures implemented by the McGowan government in relation to stopping family and domestic violence in Western Australia and to better support people impacted by family and domestic violence.

Comments and speeches from various members

HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [12.09 pm]: I am pleased to speak on this issue, which I have been working on for a long time and have been personally affected by during my life. The impact of family and domestic violence is profound. We know that it has an enormous impact, particularly on women and the rate of homelessness and the number of child protection matters, and that it is a huge health-risk factor. Despite the government’s focus on this issue—I acknowledge that that has been the case—family and domestic violence still occurs at crisis levels and significant gaps remain in support services. We know that it affects women in particular—one in three women, but one in two Aboriginal women. It is a huge issue. The problem is that domestic violence is ultimately preventable. We need to ensure that we deal with the gaps. We still need more refuges and more crisis accommodation. We know that too many women in particular are being turned away from refuges. Multiple reports have identified a significant unmet demand for housing for people escaping from domestic violence. Hon Adele Farina raised the important issue of the continuing lack of men’s behaviour change programs. This is of huge concern and an enormous gap exists within this service provision.

We need an improved response to the issue of family and domestic violence in our communities, and specific recognition that Aboriginal people, people with disability, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, LGBTIQ people and older women will be specifically at risk and need to have specific services available to them. I asked parliamentary questions about this last year. As a result, I was advised that police do not have any cultural competency training to specifically address family and domestic violence victims, particularly those from culturally and linguistically diverse families. This is a huge problem. I also want to acknowledge the gaps in support for women on temporary visas. National reports have found a huge lack of access to accommodation and support. These women in particular are very disempowered from being able to escape violent relationships. I also note the recent call by doctors for the establishment of DV trauma recovery centres to address the current gap in ongoing support for victims of domestic violence. We also need better ongoing support for families in conflict. The current waiting lists for a range of legal services around this area are unacceptably high. Family dispute resolution services in Kwinana have a 14-week waitlist and in Geraldton there is a 20-week waitlist. Children’s contact services in East Perth have a 16-week wait and in Mandurah it is a 26-week wait—six months! The parenting orders program in East Perth has a 12-week wait and in Gosnells it has a 16-week wait. The coroner’s report into the deaths of 13 children in the Kimberley referred to this. It said that domestic violence was an ongoing part of the picture that had led to the deaths of these children. It called for a number of reforms in the space, particularly in how we deal with legal matters. They need to be addressed. I will not outline them because there is not enough time, but it is important to note that children are dying at their own hand as a direct result of our failure to adequately address how we deal with family and domestic violence, particularly in the Kimberley. At that point, the coroner also raised concern about the lack of male perpetrator programs and the difficulty people have in accessing and navigating support services.

On a broader level, I note that poverty remains a significant risk factor for family and domestic violence. We need to seriously address the issue of poverty. I appreciate the measured tone that the member brought to this debate. I am pleased that there was none of the usual nonsense in terms of congratulating anyone, but a simple noting of an increased focus on the issue of family and domestic violence. I want to acknowledge that that has happened— it is really important—but we have an incredibly long way to go on this issue. The gaps are still absolutely enormous. In this situation, one woman a week is murdered. That is a devastating indictment on us as a community. We know that the best way to prevent homelessness as a result of family and domestic violence is to make sure that we prevent violence in the first place. We need to note that considerable work needs to occur on public attitude. I note that the “National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey” found that one in three Australians still believe a woman is responsible.

Motion lapsed, pursuant to standing orders.


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