The Albanese Labor Government has tabled the official response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence.
The Inquiry was established in June 2020 after the onset of COVID-19, which ‘required renewed consideration of how we reduce family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia.’ The terms of reference emphasised the role of the inquiry in informing the next National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Children.
The Committee held public hearings over 16 days from September 2020 to December 2020 and received 298 public submissions and 55 supplementary submissions, including 47 confidential submissions, from a range of stakeholders including individuals, organisations and Government departments. The Committee’s final report was published on 1 April 2021.
In announcing the official response to the Inquiry, Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth acknowledged that family, domestic and sexual violence is a problem of epidemic proportions in Australia.
“The Government thanks the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs for conducting the Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence, and supports the majority of the recommendations,” Minister Rishworth said.
“Violence against women and children in Australia is not inevitable. By all pulling in the same direction we can achieve our shared vision of ending violence against women and children in one generation.
“The National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 is the blueprint to help us get there and the Inquiry’s recommendations were carefully considered in the development of the National Plan.”
The National Plan was also developed based on extensive consultation with the advocates, the sector and victim-survivors, which was outlined in the Stakeholder Consultation Reports that were released by the Albanese Government in July 2022.
Of the 88 recommendations made by the Inquiry, the Government supports 34, supports in-principle 37, partially supports one, notes 14 and does not support two.
Recommendation 5 calls for the National Plan to be named the ‘National plan to reduce family, domestic, and sexual violence’. The National Plan title instead uses ‘violence against women’ to encompass a broader range of violence rather than the language ‘family, domestic and sexual violence’. The title maintains the National Plan’s focus on the gendered drivers of violence, and focuses on ‘ending violence’ instead of ‘reducing violence’, as living free of violence is a basic human right.
Recommendation 9 calls for the Personal Safety Survey (PSS) to be conducted on an annual basis. This is not supported due to the significant burden placed on respondents who are asked to share sensitive information about multiple forms of violence experienced in their lifetime. Conducting a detailed annual collection is not expected to detect meaningful changes in the prevalence of the wide range of violence types, year on year.
“Living free from violence is a basic human right and we’re committed to ensuring that right is realised by all people living in Australia,” Minister Rishworth said.
The first of two supporting five-year Action Plans and a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan will soon be released with clear actions to implement the National Plan. These Action Plans will detail the investment, efforts and actions the Commonwealth, state and territory governments will take to progress towards a violence-free future.
The Australian Government invested over $1.7 billion in the October Budget to support the National Plan and address gender-based violence.