Australia pledges A$100m to tackle domestic violence

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Turnbull wants to see a major shift in attitudes towards women

In his first major initiative, Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has announced a A$100m ($70m, £46m) domestic violence prevention package.

It includes funding for security systems for women at risk, such as new mobile phones, and extra support for a men's help line.

Mr Turnbull described the high levels of violence against women by partners or family members as a "disgrace".

He said Australia should aim to be known for treating women with respect.

"It is my dream that Australia will in the future be known for respecting women," Mr Turnbull told reporters at a press conference in Melbourne on Thursday.

"All violence against women begins with disrespecting women," he said.


Flanked by his new Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, the 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, and outspoken advocate for women's rights and former Victorian Police Minister, Ken Lay, Mr Turnbull said the government must make it a "clear national objective to ensure that Australia is more respecting of women".

"We have to make it as though it was un-Australian to disrespect women," he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Senator Cash says respect for women is at the top of the government's agenda

The announcement follows the murders this week of three women and one baby by family members in the state of New South Wales alone.

It also follows an appeal earlier this month in the state of Queensland by a number of high-profile Australians for governments to do more to tackle domestic violence.

That state was shocked by the murders of two women, allegedly by former partners, and a vicious public attack on a third.

Domestic violence in Australia

  • One in six women experience violence from a current or former partner
  • So far in 2015, 63 women have been killed in alleged domestic violence incidents
  • Indigenous women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised due to domestic violence
  • Domestic and sexual violence against women costs the nation A$13.6bn ($9.6bn, £6.3bn) a year

Source: Australian government

The package includes:

  • A$21m for specific measures to help Indigenous women
  • A$12m to trial technology to keep women safe, such as GPS trackers for perpetrators
  • A$17m to keep women safe in their homes by installing CCTV cameras and scanning for bugs
  • A$15m to establish specialised domestic violence units with coordinated legal, social work and cultural liaison services

Senator Cash said extra training would be given to frontline workers including police, social workers, legal and medical professionals.

"I believe this sends a very, very clear message to the Australian people that this government places respect for women and gender equality and domestic violence absolutely at the forefront of its agenda," Senator Cash said.

Former Victorian Police Minister Ken Lay, who has worked closely with Ms Batty to raise awareness about domestic violence, welcomed the package but said much more needed to be done.

"I don't' think any of us will be surprised that we will see another woman losing her life," Mr Lay said.

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