‘Women can’t wait’: Experts say domestic violence fix may take decades

Women and children experiencing domestic violence can’t afford to wait a decade for change, researchers and independent politicians say.

May 30, 2024, updated May 30, 2024
Domestic violence murder victim Hannah Clarke with her son, Trey.

Domestic violence murder victim Hannah Clarke with her son, Trey.

The federal government has committed $3.4 billion to a national plan that guides actions toward ending domestic and family violence against women and children across 10 years.

However, a paper published by UNSW Professor Michael Salter and journalist Jess Hill has called for more short and medium-term strategies to tackle some of the biggest drivers of domestic violence alongside the long-range plan.

“That involves alcohol regulation, looking at problems, tackling the pernicious effects of unregulated social media and pornography on boys and young men,” Professor Salter told reporters on Thursday.

“It involves accountability for perpetrators and making sure that our criminal justice system is reinforcing the consequences of violent and abusive behaviour against the men who are perpetrating.

“Women and children cannot wait for 10 or 20 or 30 years before they feel safe and secure in the places where they live.”

One in five people over the age of 14, an estimated 4.6 million people across Australia, had been abused or put in fear by someone under the influence of alcohol in the previous 12 months, the 2022-23 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found.

A 2020 report by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety found gambling intensified the frequency and severity of intimate partner violence against women.

And an Australian Institute of Criminology report noted that studies of women seeking support from domestic violence services revealed an association between male partners’ use of pornography and increased levels of sexual violence, rape and stalking.

The federal government has acknowledged the impact of harmful online content, including pornography, on young men and has committed $6.5 million to pilot “age-assurance technologies”.

However, crossbencher Zali Steggall said this was not enough.

“If the government is serious about addressing women’s safety, really putting it at the forefront, then they must increase funding and really look beyond the national plan to other measures,” Ms Steggall said

poker machines
Research shows gambling intensifies the frequency and severity of partner violence against women. (Paul Jeffers/AAP PHOTOS)
Senator Pocock said Australians were “sick and tired” of gambling advertising.

“Yet the government’s missing in action on that,” he said.

One woman was killed every 11 days by a current or former partner between 2022 and 2023, with the rate estimated to have doubled in 2024 after a spate of high-profile deaths.

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Australia is still reeling after it was revealed West Australian police failed to stop domestic abuser Mark Bombara from committing a double murder, even after the man’s ex-wife and daughter made several pleas for help.

The Commonwealth has offered $5000 in financial support for women escaping violent relationships as part of an almost $1 billion package in its 2024 federal budget.

However, it has come under fire over a lack of funding for frontline domestic violence services in this same budget.

Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said states and territories had primary responsibility for funding those services.

“I accept the Commonwealth has responsibilities,” she told Senate Budget Estimates.

“We will continue to work with the states and territories.”

The Victorian state government on Thursday unveiled a $100 million package that will introduce a presumption of a minimum length for court-imposed family violence intervention orders.

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