Federal government stumps up $22.4 million for new EVAW commission

By Melissa Coade

Thursday November 25, 2021

Marise Payne
Women’s minister Marise Payne. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The federal government plans on appointing a new commission to end family, domestic and sexual violence following a multi-million dollar investment announcement on Tuesday evening.

The ending violence against women (EVAW) commission will be tasked with supporting the development of policy to address violence against women, engaging with the sector and strengthening government cooperation with between the federal, state and territory jurisdictions.

Minister for women Marise Payne and minister for women’s safety Anne Ruston issued a joint statement announcing the $22.4 million would be provided over a five-year period and will, in part, go towards hiring research and secretariat staff.

“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 next iteration of Australia’s national plan will replace the existing one that lapses in June 2022 and a draft version of the new document is expected to be released by the end of the year.

“The next national plan will be an ambitious blueprint to end violence against women and children, but it must be more than words,” Payne added.

Speaking to The Mandarin earlier this week, Monash University’s Professor Silke Myer — who is the deputy director of the centre chosen to lead the government’s national plan consultation project — said she hoped major reforms were adopted to assist children in the family law system. 

In the academic’s view, the Australian family law system and child protection agencies should support families and ensure that decisions are made that are in children’s best interest. Often, however, Meyer says, the federal jurisdiction of family law means that it does not integrate or coordinate so well with state-level support initiatives to provide a holistic domestic and family violence (DFV) informed response to families affected by DFV.

From a policy and legislative perspective, it really needs to be integrated with the civil DFV protection order systems at the state level — to better support child and adult survivors and families more broadly but maybe most importantly to ensure system accountability,” Meyer said.

Ruston said that together with a $260 million national partnership agreement announced in the federal budget, frontline service capacity for victim-survivors would be improved. The minister also underscored an additional $130 million that had been announced during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that local solutions for local needs was the focus of the policy.

“Rather than Canberra dictating how the money must be spent, we are providing flexibility to those with the knowledge on the ground, which has allowed the additional support to span frontline services, safe accommodation, perpetrator interventions, helplines, counselling services and training,” Ruston said. 

The Coalition government announcement came hours before the Opposition planned to unveil its own commission policy on Wednesday morning. Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese is backing an additional 500 extra caseworkers, financial counsellors and child support staff to help address frontline needs for women escaping violent situations. 

Labor’s plan will place community sector workers in rural and regional parts of Australia and the commissioner would be tasked with tracking progress under the national plan, with key data-collecting responsibilities to evaluate the performance of jurisdictions and ensure funding is being awarded where it is most needed.

“The scourge of domestic violence is a stain on our nation. And we need, together, to do more to combat it,” Albanese said at a doorstop interview on Wednesday morning.

“This must be a priority for governments of all levels […] I am committed to this being an absolute priority for a Labor government that I would lead.”

In September, the federal government hosted a national summit on women’s safety, where prime minister Scott Morrison said he was committed to a future ‘that honours respect’ for women.


READ MORE:

NSW makes ‘landmark’ investment to boost DV support services

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