Australian PM Tony Abbott Is Putting Domestic Violence On The National Agenda

Tony Abbott / File

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced plans for a national Domestic Violence Order (DVO) scheme, saying he will make the issue a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agenda item when state premiers meet this year.

He hopes to have the framework for a national DVO scheme in place by the end of 2015.

2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, and retiring Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay have agreed to be founding members of a Commonwealth advisory panel on violence against women. Further members have yet to be appointed.

Work on a national DVO scheme began last year, and the Prime Minister said it must now be a priority for COAG. Under the scheme, if a protection order is issued in one state, it will apply in all states. Currently, each state controls individual criminal statutes and its own DVO regime.

“Development of national standards for how we intervene against perpetrators and hold them accountable will also be a priority,” Abbott said. “The current system is fragmented.

“Furthermore, COAG will consider the enactment of a national approach to dealing with online safety and the misuse of technology, so we can protect women against newer forms of abuse.”

Last year the Government released its second action plan as part of the national plan to reduce violence again women and children, allocating $100 million towards the strategy, but women’s groups subsequently told a Senate inquiry that there wasn’t enough local funding to help women in need of support and that the strategy lacked the detail to produce meaningful results.

Funding cuts to community legal centres, part of the Abbott government’s budget austerity drive, have raised concerns that victims of domestic violence will be under additional pressure if some centres are forced to close when funding ends in mid 2015. The national rental affordability scheme is also being cut, adding to the strain on women forced to flee the family home, advocates say.

“We must ensure systems across Australia work effectively to provide better, more integrated support to women and we must simplify the complex maze of services victims of domestic and family violence are expected to navigate,” the PM said.

But the last 12 months have been difficult for those working at the frontline of domestic violence, with the NSW government diverting $6 million in funding from Sydney to regional areas, forcing a number of inner city women’s shelters to close.

Abbott said he fully supported the Victorian Government’s proposed Royal Commission in to family violence.

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