Services urge long-term plan to tackle violence crisis

Andrew Brown |

Crowds in Canberra marched on Parliament House to call for action to end violence against women.
Crowds in Canberra marched on Parliament House to call for action to end violence against women.

Community organisations dealing with violence against women have called for a sustained approach from governments to address the crisis amid calls for more funding to bolster support services.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet state and territory leaders on Wednesday at a national cabinet meeting focused on the issue.

Mass marches were held across the country at the weekend as demonstrators called on governments to do more following the deaths of at least 27 women in 2024 from male violence.

The federal government is two years into a 10-year national plan on domestic violence.

Chief executive of community support organisation inTouch, Rasha Abbas, said a holistic approach was needed from national cabinet.

“It’s not an issue that can be fixed in a month or two, it is a crisis, and we  need to make sure there is a sustained effort and deep, meaningful action that will make a difference,” she told AAP.

“It’s an issue that affects all cultures and communities and it needs prevention.”

While Ms Abbas said there had been a focus on crisis support following violence against women, there also needed to be an emphasis on preventative measures in the community.

She said governments needed to work closely alongside organisations in the space to ensure the support would be targeted where it’s needed most.

“Understanding the complexity and intersectionality of the family violence issue and and recognising the specialist nature (of support services) is really important,” she said.

Katy Gallagher, Amanda Rishworth and Anthony Albanese in Canberra
Women’s Minister Katy Gallagher and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attend the Canberra rally. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

“It’s society, it’s government, everyone needs to step into this space and we all need to do more.”

Queensland’s government on Monday announced $36 million in extra funding for domestic and sexual violence services, amid calls for the Commonwealth to allocate funds in next month’s budget.

Mr Albanese said the government was looking at long-term solutions to address violence against women.

But he said he would not formally declare the scourge as a national emergency.

“An emergency declaration by state or territory governments kicks in immediate, one-off actions by the federal government. What we need here is not one-off actions, what we need is a concerted plan,” he told ABC TV on Monday.

“This isn’t something that requires a one-off action, this is something that requires concerted action from all levels of government, from the media, from all levels of society to change culture, because this is a scourge.”

Among the issues to be discussed at national cabinet is whether bail laws for those accused of violence against women are adequate.

People at a women's rally in King George Square, Brisbane
At least 27 women have allegedly died by male violence so far in 2024, Destroy the Joint says. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

“It’s not just women and children who will gain from that, men will gain from that as well if we have respectful relationships across our society … but at the moment, women are feeling, quite rightly, frustrated and angry.”

Women’s Minister Katy Gallagher said the government was keeping an open mind about measures to address violence against women.

“I don’t think there’s any shortage of resources and commitment going into this,” she told ABC TV on Monday.

“But I think we always need to look at whether things are working, whether we need to shift focus or look at new ways, particularly in the area of prevention, about how we provide support and service.”

Greens women’s spokeswoman Larissa Waters said the response from the government had been lacklustre.

“Stopping violence against women will take systemic action to tackle root causes and transform harmful societal norms, but it also requires adequate funding of the organisations that do the hard work on the front lines of this epidemic,” she said.

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