PM wants end to domestic violence but funding queried

Andrew Brown and Kat Wong |

Advocates say action on alcohol, gambling and pornography is key to help address domestic violence.
Advocates say action on alcohol, gambling and pornography is key to help address domestic violence.

Every federal politician needs to take responsibility for rising levels of violence against women, the prime minister has declared, saying too many incidents were taking place.

Following community outrage after Perth man Mark Bombara killed the friend of his ex-wife and the friend’s 18-year-old daughter, Anthony Albanese said the rates of violence against women were alarming.

“Tragically, every weekend, every week, every month, every year, there’s just too much of this,” he told parliament on Thursday.

“It is something that we in (parliament house) have a responsibility to address. State governments, who are the frontline of community service delivery, have a responsibility to address, but our whole society needs to be engaged with (the solution), as well.”

Mr Albanese said it remained concerning that violence against women was being repeated through generations.

“It has an impact on children, and we often see people who have experienced and witnessed violence against their mums,” he said.

“Men, in particular, have to take responsibility for changing attitudes, changing culture, because it demeans everyone, it demeans women.”

It comes as West Australian police have come under sustained pressure following revelations they failed to stop the double murder by Bombara, despite several pleas for help from his ex-wife and daughter.

The state government had flagged changes to gun laws following the double murder, but Premier Roger Cook has faced sustained questioning over whether he was satisfied with the police response.

Meanwhile, researchers say women and children experiencing domestic violence cannot afford to wait a decade for change.

The federal government has committed $3.4 billion to a 10-year national plan that guides actions toward ending domestic and family violence against women and children.

people in sydney
The federal government has committed $3.4 billion to a plan to tackle domestic and family violence. (Jane Dempster/AAP PHOTOS)

However, a paper published by UNSW Professor Michael Salter and journalist Jess Hill has called for more short and medium-term strategies to tackle some of the biggest drivers of domestic violence alongside the long-range plan.

“That involves alcohol regulation, looking at problems, tackling the pernicious effects of unregulated social media and pornography on boys and young men,” Professor Salter told reporters on Thursday.

“It involves accountability for perpetrators and making sure that our criminal justice system is reinforcing the consequences of violent and abusive behaviour against the men who are perpetrating.

“Women and children cannot wait for 10 or 20 or 30 years before they feel safe and secure in the places where they live.”

One in five people over the age of 14, an estimated 4.6 million people across Australia, had been abused or put in fear by someone under the influence of alcohol in the previous 12 months, the 2022-23 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found.

A 2020 report by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety found gambling intensified the frequency and severity of intimate partner violence against women.

And an Australian Institute of Criminology report noted that studies of women seeking support from domestic violence services revealed an association between male partners’ use of pornography and increased levels of sexual violence, rape and stalking.

poker machines
Research shows gambling intensifies the frequency and severity of partner violence against women. (Paul Jeffers/AAP PHOTOS)

The federal government has acknowledged the impact of harmful online content, including pornography, on young men and has committed $6.5 million to pilot “age-assurance technologies”.

One woman was killed every 11 days by a current or former partner between 2022 and 2023, with the rate estimated to have doubled in 2024 after a spate of high-profile deaths.

The Commonwealth has offered $5000 in financial support for women escaping violent relationships as part of an almost $1 billion package in its 2024 federal budget.

However, it has come under fire over a lack of funding for frontline domestic violence services in this same budget.

Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said states and territories had primary responsibility for funding those services.

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