Domestic violence is occurring at shocking levels across Australia, in this post Betty argues that it is time for focus and policy solutions in Queensland.
Well the Queensland election is now in full swing with both major and minor parties out on the hustings with promises and counter promises announced daily. Asset sales/ leases, new roads, schools, extra teachers, extra nurses, gas & coal mining, saving the Barrier Reef and a plethora of other issues.
Our leaders are busy I know but I can’t accept that no-one has mentioned domestic and family violence and the fact that three Queensland women and one man have been killed in the first three weeks of 2015. This together with another four women killed across Australia and we have a national tragedy. Seven women killed in three weeks and no-one is talking about it.
Late last year, Campbell Newman launched a Domestic & Family Violence Taskforce headed by Dame Quentin Bryce to review responses across the State. This Taskforce is not due to hand down its report until late March, well after the election. Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, has stated she will consider recommendations from the Taskforce Report.
All good but not good enough. The silence in Queensland can be contrasted with the successful No More Deaths campaign in Victoria which has seen the newly elected Labor Premier appoint a Minister for Family Violence Prevention as well as a Royal Commission into family violence.
A one year snapshot from available data for 2011-2012
During 2011-2012, Queensland Police Service responded to 36,856 domestic violence and family violence call-outs, 22,332 applications for protection were made to Queensland Magistrates Courts under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 and there were 58,600 calls to DV Connect the State-wide domestic violence telephone service.
Diane Mangan, CEO DV Connect informs “ the calls to the centre have been relentless this summer, exceeding 200 calls a day”. The rate of calls to police, hospitals and community services is increasing with many stretched to breaking point.
The Personal Safety Survey 2012 (ABS, 2012) reported 34% of women had experienced physical violence and 19% of women had experienced sexual violence from the age of 15 years. Overall 1 in 6 women in Australia have experienced some form of violence from their partner.
Domestic violence and sexual assault are considered the most pervasive forms of violence experienced by women across Australia (DSS, 2009). Women’s experiences of intimate partner violence is acknowledged as a serious and significant public health issue by the World Health Organisation. With studies showing that domestic violence is a leading contributor to death, illness and disability in women aged 15-44. It is estimated violence against women and their children costs the Australian economy $13.6 billion each year. It is also estimated, without appropriate action, an estimated 750,000 Australian women will experience and report violence during 2021-2022, costing the Australian economy an estimated $15.6 billion.
In Queensland over the past twelve months, there has been considerable focus on legislation and interventions to reduce both bikie crimes and public acts of alcohol related violence with claims they are making a difference in reducing crime and improving community safety, At the same time, there is a shroud of silence over the increased reported incidence of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.
It is not enough to wait out the release of yet another report. The evidence is already there that reported incidence of domestic violence in Queensland has reached crisis point. One can only imagine what the true nature of abuse ‘behind closed doors’ is as many suffer in silence too afraid to seek support and speak out. Their silence should not be ours.
The government’s $44.5 million Safe Night Out strategy is laudable however there would be many Queenslanders living with violence who would welcome A Safe Night In.