Domestic Violence

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Domestic and family violence is an all too common crime. Today I acknowledge the victims and survivors of domestic and family violence, and those who have for many decades provided care and support to women and children experiencing violence and abuse. Just over 40 years ago a brave group of women took refuge in an abandoned house in Glebe. Through hard work and commitment they established Elsie's Refuge for Women and Children in 1974.

Riding the crest of the wave of the women's liberation movement, those pioneering feminist activists squatted in that house and set up the first women's refuge in response to the lack of services and support available to women and children suffering from domestic violence. Initially they received no support from government. Staff at the centre had to provide security with props such as cricket bats. It was not until 1975, under the Gough Whitlam Labor Government, that funding was granted to the service. The refuge was the first of its kind and it served to inspire other women around the world to re-create the service model in their areas. 

Following my inaugural speech I have been contacted by women, men and children from the Blue Mountains and across the State who were moved by my public testament to the importance of safety, refuge and support services for women and children experiencing domestic violence. Many of those people experienced suffering at the hands of a violent perpetrator—someone who should have been there to protect them, not terrorise them. Yesterday, along with some of my Labor colleagues, I attended a rally outside Parliament House organised by a number of service providers. The service providers are calling on the Government to act swiftly and decisively to reduce the mounting domestic violence death toll. Whilst it is good for us to talk more and continue to raise awareness of domestic violence, it is absolutely pointless if we do not provide funding for the phone referral and advice lines, or the services women and children need when they have to leave their homes. 

Yesterday the group called on the Government to view the number of women dying as a state of emergency that requires an emergency response. They want adequate services for women and children that are easily accessible in times of danger. Police should be provided with the necessary resources to act on breaches of apprehended domestic violence orders and make arrests. We need an immediate inquiry into the impact that the Going Home Staying Home reforms are having on women's safety. We call upon the Government to reinstate funds that were cut or spread across a wider client target group as a result of the so-called Going Home Staying Home reforms to ensure that those funds are quarantined specifically for domestic violence support and safe accommodation. I acknowledge that there are many people in this place who will work together on this important issue. 

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