The federal government will establish a domestic, family, and sexual violence commission to oversee its next national plan to end violence against women and children.
The government made the announcement late on Tuesday night, just moments before an embargo lifted on Labor’s pledge to appoint a family, domestic and sexual violence commissioner, and fund 500 new community sector workers to support women, if it wins the next election.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese announced Labor’s new policies on Wednesday morning, saying the “scourge of domestic violence is a stain on our nation” and we need to do more to combat it. Labor would commit $153 million over four years, with half of the 500 new community sector workers to be in rural and regional areas. Its domestic, family, and sexual violence commissioner would act as an advocate for victim-survivors and measure the government’s progress against the national plan.
In a joint statement, Minister for Women Marise Payne and Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said the Morrison government would dedicate $22.4 million over five years to establish its commission.
The government says the commission will provide “policy leadership”, develop and foster relationships across the sector, and ensure cooperation and transparency between the commonwealth, states and territories their delivery of the next national plan.
“The new Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission will have responsibility for monitoring and reporting on accountability and evaluation frameworks against the next National Plan to ensure it delivers real and tangible actions that prevent violence, intervene early and better support victim-survivors,’ Payne said.
The commission will be classified as an executive agency and would be led by a chief executive or commissioner, and it would have research and secretariat staff.
When announcing its own policy on Wednesday, Labor said the Morrison government has “failed” to take domestic violence seriously over its eight years in power.
“Right now, women fleeing violence are being turned away from accommodation and services because of insufficient funding towards sector workers, and the failure to recognise this tragedy as a national priority,” Albanese said in a statement.
“Across the country domestic violence organisation tell us how much more they could do with an extra pair of hands.”
Labor’s commitment for 500 new community workers would allow frontline services to employ extra case workers, financial counsellors to help women with their financial situation, and specialist support workers to help children.
On average, one woman is killed each week by a current or former partner in Australia and 1 in 3 women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
Thursday is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.