Government declines royal commission into domestic violence, vowing to stick to with current plan

Government declines royal commission into domestic violence, vowing to stick to with current plan
  • PublishedApril 28, 2024

A national domestic violence plan needs more time before its effects will be seen, according to federal Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth.

There is heightened national focus on the prevalence of male violence against women this week following a series of homicides.

Ms Rishworth will join Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at a rally against gender-based violence in Canberra on Sunday afternoon, one of a series being held across the country.

The rallies coincide with police charging a Perth man with the murder of his partner — the 27th time a man has been charged in relation to the death of a woman in Australia this year.

Speaking on Sunday morning, Ms Rishworth said the government would not move to establish a royal commission into domestic violence, echoing similar comments made on Saturday by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.

Instead, she said, the government believed it needed to “get on with the job” of implementing the national plan to end violence against women, agreed by national cabinet in 2022.

That plan aspires to eradicate violence “within a generation”, and will be used as a framework to guide government actions at all levels until 2032.

“We need to actually just start delivering,” Ms Rishworth said.

“[It] is less than two years old … We need to have this consistent effort.”

Four areas of focus identified

The plan identifies four areas of focus: prevention, early intervention, response, and recovery and healing. Governments at all levels have started funding initiatives.

“Some of that work, while it’s urgent to invest, the results will take some time to see the change we need to turn things around,” Ms Rishworth said.

“Importantly, it was informed by victim-survivors and other experts.”

But the Coalition has been critical of the slow rollout of one of the early measures taken by the Albanese government — funding for 500 frontline domestic violence workers.

In March, a Senate committee heard only two workers had been appointed despite funding being provided in October 2022.

“We’ve all had enough, enough of the big money announcements. We need money on the ground,” Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie said on Sunday.

Ms Rishworth said the money had been provided to states and territories, which were “recruiting as we speak”.

“That funding is in the budget, [but] we are not as the Commonwealth responsible for frontline workers … I expect we will meet our targets,” she said.

Senator McKenzie and other senior Coalition figures have not directly called for a royal commission, but Senator McKenzie criticised the government for being “big on royal commissions in opposition [but] now refusing one”.

Independent MP Dai Le told the ABC’s Insiders she did not support a royal commission.

“I don’t know if another royal commission will actually do any good … Target the funding to communities experiencing high domestic violence [rates instead],” she said.

A woman sit in an office looking serious.
Independent MP Dai Le says she does not support a royal commission into violence against women.(ABC News: John Gunn)

Ms Le also suggested language about domestic violence could “alienate one group from another … Not all men are violent, but the way we’re portraying it is that men are violent against women,” she said.

Ms Rishworth and Senator McKenzie both identified a need to tackle men’s attitudes.

“Too often we frame this problem as a women’s problem, [as if] women need to fix this, but really this is a men’s violence problem,” Ms Rishworth said.

“For an individual to call out violent behaviour if they see it, to call out disrespectful attitudes to women, this is at the heart of what is being called for,” she said.

Senator McKenzie said Australians needed to ensure “our young men … display their masculinity in powerful but respectful ways”.


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