NSW Domestic Violence Report Recommendations

Today Abigail asked when the NSW Government intends to adopt the recommendations arising from the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team 2017-19 report and ensure broader representation on the relevant committees.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:40): My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, representing the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. Recommendation 34 in the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team 2017-19 report called for the Coroners Act 2009 to be amended to create greater parity in the non-government and government membership of the team. The New South Wales Government has stated that it supported the recommendation. When will the Minister be introducing legislative amendments to guarantee greater parity in the non-government and government membership of the team and to include greater representation for rural and regional areas?

The Hon. SARAH MITCHELL (Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning) (12:41): I thank the honourable member for her question asked of me representing the Attorney General. I am able to provide some advice to the honourable member on behalf of the Attorney General. As Ms Abigail Boyd would be well aware, at least one woman on average is murdered at the hands of a partner or former partner each week. The Domestic Violence Death Review Team [DVDRT] report outlines findings from the 53 domestic violence deaths that occurred between July 2014 and June 2016 and were examined by the team between 2017 and 2019. Between 2000 and 2019, 530 people were killed as a result of domestic violence. The rate of women murdered as a result of domestic violence in this State and in this country remains stubbornly and defiantly consistent.

At the outset, we acknowledge the impact of domestic violence on individuals, families and the communities who experience it or are affected by it. The New South Wales Government is firmly committed to improving outcomes for victims and holding perpetrators to account for their actions. As the honourable member is aware, the DVDRT was established in 2010 under the Coroners Act 2009 to review homicides occurring as a consequence of domestic violence in New South Wales. The work of the DVDRT is crucial in addressing the systemic issues underpinning homicide in domestic relationships. The DVDRT reports to Parliament biennially on the closed cases of domestic violence homicides, making recommendations designed to facilitate improvements in systems and services for victims of domestic violence in an effort to reduce the overall rates of domestic violence homicide in New South Wales.

To the honourable member's point about recommendation 34 in the 2017-19 report, I am pleased to inform the House that the DVDRT is already a multi-agency committee chaired by the State Coroner with representatives from key government agencies, non-government organisations and academics. The diversity in membership of the team provides a variety of much-needed and welcome perspectives, including those of frontline services who have provided assistance and support to victims firsthand; academics who analyse the data and trends in domestic violence homicides over time; and a number of relevant government agencies who provide insights and valuable contributions in their area of expertise and response.

Together the committee members consider with due regard and empathy the suffering of the families and friends of the victims of domestic homicide to inform their approach and to make recommendations for change. The team recognises that reducing and preventing domestic violence and deaths related to domestic violence requires communication, cooperation and collaboration between various response agencies that traditionally work separately and sometimes at odds with each other. All recommendations made by the DVDRT, therefore, are carefully considered by government.

The Government is committed to reducing the incidence of domestic violence and, most especially, homicides occurring as a consequence of domestic violence. Our reform agenda is carefully considered and backed by evidence and thorough research. For example, the 2017-19 DVDRT report highlighted that the presence of coercive control was a precursor to 99 per cent of the domestic violence homicides it reviewed. As recommended by the report, the Department of Communities and Justice has been examining how existing New South Wales laws respond to non-physical forms of violence and patterns of violence.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:44): I ask a supplementary question. I thank the Minister for her response to my question. Will she elucidate her point about particular recommendations and clarify whether the answer to my question is, "No, we will not be changing the membership of the team", or, "Not yet."?

The Hon. SARAH MITCHELL (Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning) (12:45): I thank the honourable member for her supplementary question. As I said at the outset, this is the advice that I have been provided in relation to this matter, but I am happy to take the supplementary question on notice and seek some further clarification for the honourable member from the Attorney General.

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