(Questions Without Notice, 17 September 2015, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
My question is directed to the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. How is the Government addressing the fact that up to one in three couples who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer [LGBTIQ] experience domestic violence?
Response from the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault:
I thank the member for Sydney for his question and his work on behalf of his constituents. He is a hardworking member and he is someone who supports the Government's efforts in preventing domestic violence in our communities. The New South Wales Government is working closely with the non-government sector to deliver services and supports to victims and their families in a way that meets their needs. I know that governments, whatever the amount of money they invest or the legislation they enact, cannot alone improve the lives of the people they serve, and they never could. The challenge for governments, policymakers, service providers, educators and consumers is: How do we work together? How do we partner like we have never partnered before to deliver a twenty-first century service system? It is partnership that will be crucial going forward.
Given the complex nature of domestic and family violence, our work together across the government and non-government sectors and the broader community is the only way we will provide people with the support they need and make their lives better. Recently I joined the member for Sydney in announcing that the AIDS Council of New South Wales [ACON] would receive one of four grants under the New South Wales Government's It Stops Here Prevention projects initiative. Funding of $115,000 will allow ACON to deliver activities that focus on primary prevention initiatives for the LGBTIQ community and to develop strategies that are tailored to prevent domestic and family violence in those contexts. People within the LGBTIQ community are less likely to identify the abuse as domestic and family violence and they are less likely to seek support or to find appropriate services that meet their specific needs, or the needs of their family.
Domestic violence is a crime. It is about power and control. It is a crime that means too many women and children suffer and tragically die as a result of violence. In every community, in every one of our electorates, it can reach any household, any street, and any suburb. People are suffering at the hands of perpetrators and many keep suffering at the hands of repeat offenders. Domestic violence has one of the highest reoffending rates—21.5 per cent—of all offence groups, according to data published by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research [BOCSAR]. What does this mean? It means that between 2012 and 2014, 9,612 domestic violence offenders reoffended within 24 months. That cannot continue. That is higher than the property crime reoffending rate at 20.3 per cent, higher than the driving offence reoffending rate at 14.8 per cent and higher than the violent crime reoffending rate at 14.5 per cent. That is why the Premier has made it a priority to reduce the proportion of domestic violence perpetrators reoffending within 12 months by 5 per cent. It is a bold target, and we are under no illusion that it will not be an easy task. But we have to make that change happen and we must set that target in order to drive change.
The Government is delivering on those commitments. I previously updated the House on how the Government is delivering on our election commitment to pilot a domestic violence disclosure scheme—an Australian first—which is another valuable tool that can be used to prevent domestic violence. A critical component in holding perpetrators to account is an effective justice process for dealing with these cases throughout New South Wales. That is why the Government has implemented groundbreaking domestic violence evidence-in-chief reforms. This evidence can be collected when police are called to a domestic violence incident. Last month the Attorney General and I announced a review of domestic violence sentencing.
This analysis will help identify any gaps in the criminal justice system. The Government is also improving its service system to support victims through It Stops Here. A key part of It Stops Here is Safer Pathway, a new approach to victims safety assessment, referral and service coordination. It was launched in Orange and Waverley in September last year, and as at 1 July this year we have expanded to four new sites, Tweed Heads, Parramatta, Bankstown and Broken Hill. Shared knowledge is a powerful thing, and that is what those safety action meetings are based on.
The Government is also investing $5.28 million over three years to pilot the delivery of community-based men's behaviour change programs across four locations in New South Wales. This puts the focus back on perpetrators to take responsibility for their violent and controlling behaviours. Changing these behaviours is critical. That is why the Government also supports the Men's Referral Service, a 24/7 men's telephone counselling and referral service to provide support for men who recognise that violence is unacceptable. Our Government has heard the call and recognised that we need to educate our young people about domestic violence.
On 3 July I was pleased to announce that young people will soon be empowered with the knowledge, understanding and skills to help recognise and prevent domestic and family violence under new changes to the school syllabus. From the start of the first school term in 2016 the mandatory New South Wales years 7-10 PDHPE syllabus will be updated to explicitly include domestic and family violence prevention. We are able to do all of this because we have a vision, a drive and a determination to see through what will be difficult. I am proud that the Premier and the Government have made domestic violence prevention a priority.
See Hansard record HERE