A Labor government would appoint a domestic violence commissioner and provide funds for 500 new community sector workers to help women in crisis.
In an initiative to be announced by Labor leader Anthony Albanese on Wednesday, Labor will undertake that half these extra workers would be in rural and regional areas.
Meanwhile in a late night statement on Tuesday, the government announced it would spend $22.4 million over five years to set up a domestic, family and sexual violence commission to oversee the implementation of the next national plan to end violence against women.
Dealing with domestic violence has proved one of the most intractable policy challenges for federal and state governments, despite the increasing attention that has been given to it in recent years.
On average, one woman is killed each week by a current or former partner, and violence is the leading preventable cause of death, illness and disability for women aged between 15-44.
According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in June, the number of police-recorded victims of family and domestic violence related sexual assault increased by 13% in 2020.
Thursday is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
The extra workers funded by Labor would enable shelters to employ an extra case manager, community organisation to hire a financial counsellor to advise women, and women’s services to take on a support worker to counsel children. The initiative for the workers would cost $153 million over the forward estimates.
The commissioner would “act as a strong voice for victim-survivors”, Labor says.
The person would work with federal agencies as well as the states and community organisations to ensure adequate data was available. They would also help with co-ordination of policies and provide accountability and transparency.
Labor’s proposed commissioner follows the National Women’s Safety Summit in September where Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged too many Australian women were not safe.
“It is not a new problem and it is not a simple problem. But Australia does have a problem,” he said.
*If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence or sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. *