Safe State Funding

Very disappointingly, the Government has failed to adopt the funding recommendations in the Safe State plan to end sexual and gendered violence. Today in Question Time, Abigail asked the Minister for Women the obvious question: why not? Unsatisfied with the response, she asked a supplementary question and followed it up in the Take Note Debate.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:58): My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women. As the Minister for women, and acknowledging that all women in New South Wales have the right to live free from violence, why has the Government not adopted in yesterday's budget any of the funding recommendations from the detailed and comprehensive Safer State plan to end sexual and gendered violence?

The Hon. BRONNIE TAYLOR (Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women) (12:58): I thank the honourable member for her question. As we know, domestic family violence is one of the biggest social issues affecting the lives of women, men and children in New South Wales and every assault and death is an absolute tragedy. I draw the member's attention to the fact that in the 2018-2019 budget the New South Wales Government allocated a $390 million investment over four years in specialist initiatives to reduce domestic and family violence. That funding continues, in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year on mainstream services in justice, health, police, child protection and housing. It has increased the number of women's shelters since 2014 from 76 to 83. 

When it comes to the numbers in domestic violence it is easy to be very disappointed, and these figures represent real people—women, children and men. They count mothers, daughters, wives, husbands, sons and fathers—families torn apart by domestic violence. The member is right that no woman should feel in fear of domestic violence. We launched also the $20 million Domestic and Family Violence Innovation Fund, which has funded 20 innovative projects to tackle domestic violence. The New South Wales Government rolled out Safer Pathway, a fantastic program that I am sure the member is aware of. It aims to ensure that domestic violence victims receive a coordinated, consistent and effective response by providing a single contact point for victims to access the support they need without having to repeat their story multiple times.

Victims of domestic violence have told us that they cannot keep repeating their stories over and over again. We need to do better and this program addresses that. Safer Pathway aims to ensure that services work together to provide tailored support to meet the needs of victims and their children. This multi-agency initiative is now operating at 48 sites across New South Wales, something to be very proud of. Regarding the Premier's priority to reduce the proportion of domestic violence perpetrators reoffending by 25 per cent by 2021, based on the 2019 cohort of perpetrators, since work on the priority began, the domestic violence reoffending rate has dropped and as of January 2019 it has reached the lowest point since baseline, representing a 9.6 per cent reduction in the rate over 12 months. We would all be pleased with that statistic. The priority was widely recognised as extremely ambitious and is a very good result.

In September 2018 new sentencing reforms came into effect creating a presumption that domestic violence offenders either receive a supervised community-based sentence or are imprisoned. In either scenario offenders will be directed to certified men's behaviour change programs. But we cannot ignore the confronting figures that clearly show we need more progress. The New South Wales Government is committed to supporting efforts to combat— [Time expired.]

The Hon. DON HARWIN: If honourable members have further questions, I suggest they place them on notice.

The PRESIDENT: I indicate to honourable members that when the time has expired for questions the Minister has the right to move that any further questions be put on notice. That includes supplementary questions. I will always give the Minister the call first.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (13:04): My further supplementary question is directed to the Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women in relation to the response to my question during question time. The Minister mentioned a number of funding programs that were already in existence at the time that the Safe State program was developed. Which of those does the Minister think is meeting the Safe State funding recommendations?

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (13:14): During question time the Hon. Bronnie Taylor responded to my question on the Safe State platform, which was developed by 14 frontline women's organisations that deal with sexual and gendered violence. They prepared those very detailed recommendations on the basis that current funding is insufficient to provide a whole-of-government response to the current domestic violence and violence against women epidemics. One women dies every week. The experts at the heart of this issue have told the Government that what it is currently doing is not enough. We need widespread reforms, which, unfortunately, will require funding in the short term to ensure that we do not end up with another generation of #MeToo. It is incredibly important that we fund frontline and prevention services to ensure we do not end up with continued violence against women.

Read the full transcript on Hansard here.

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