Crossbench letter to PM on domestic violence

30 April 2024

Today, members of the crossbench have written to the Prime Minister regarding urgent action to target domestic violence. 


Or read below: 

Dear Prime Minister,

Thirty-two women have been killed by men's violence this year alone.

Violence against women is preventable, but we need to better identify risks and opportunities for intervention.

In NSW, Molly Ticehurst’s alleged killer, her former partner, was on bail for rape and stalking charges against her at the time she was killed. He was accused of three counts of rape, four counts of stalking and intimidation, two counts of destroying property, and one count of animal cruelty. These are well established risk factors for escalation of harm, and yet he was released on bail.

In Victoria, Hannah McGuire was killed, allegedly by her former boyfriend. She had sought help from police in the two weeks leading up to her death and she had an intervention order in place at the time she was killed. The alleged killer was on bail for unrelated serious offences at the time of the killing.

In Queensland, Hannah Clarke and her three children had sought help from the police and domestic violence services prior to her death. The Coronial Inquest concluded that 'there was a failure by all agencies to recognise her extreme risk of lethality'. There was a domestic violence protection order (DVO) in place at the time of the killings.

All too often when inquiries are conducted following these killings, we learn that there were numerous opportunities to intervene and prevent these deaths. It is too late at that point - we need to create a robust national effort to improve risk identification and justice system intervention in cases of male violence against women.

We need to treat gender-based violence with the same level of urgency we show acts of terrorism, and at a rate of a woman every four days, it is killing more Australians.
The fact is that women, and children, are being terrorised across our nation. We cannot let this be yet another moment of marching in the streets that does not deliver change.
We know that you know that.

Our view is that the call for a national Royal Commission is well intentioned, but the question is, what would it uncover that we don’t already know? In the past three years, we’ve had a House of Representatives inquiry into Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence and a National Women’s Safety Summit. And the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2015 made 227 recommendations. Experts in the sector already know where resources are urgently needed. Rather than spend a year and several hundred million dollars on a Royal Commission, while women are killed every week, we need to spend that money on accelerated action.

We need coordinated action across the spectrum - prevention, early intervention, and response.

Our view is that it needs to be broken down into three areas: immediate actions, next steps, and long-term cultural change.

Immediate action includes a sentencing review to create more accountability and consequences for perpetrators, not only within the justice system where bail laws and intervention orders are failing women, but other systems that are weaponised by perpetrators, including child support and the family courts.

These potential actions include mandatory sentencing, consequences for breaching AVOs, electronic monitoring, abolishing the admission of ‘good character’ references and a National Domestic Violence Register.

Experts also support minimum police investigation standards and government funded independent legal representation.

Right now, there is no nationally co-ordinated mechanism to count and analyse the deaths of these women.

To better identify risk, we need consolidated data to identify red flags that are being missed in the system. Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon’s Family Violence Homicide Prevention Initiative would build the evidence base, including knowledge of risk factors and intervention points, needed to interrupt trajectories of harm and violence escalation.

Next steps would target exacerbating factors like violent online porn, misogynistic social media influencers and problem gambling. These harmful, unregulated industries are contributing to violence against women, and they must be held accountable.

The current impact of financial pressure on families must also be assessed.

We also need sustainable, consistent, and certain investment in frontline services, including affordable housing for women escaping violent relationships.

The National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children and The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan are a good set of aims but they are underfunded. Frontline services live hand to mouth, constantly worrying about whether their funding will be renewed.

The Escaping Violence Program must be fully funded along with programs to enable women to stay in the family home, and the federal government must force the states to break the logjam on the recruitment of 500 frontline workers funded in last year’s Budget.

Journalist and educator on coercive control Jess Hill is right when she says we won’t stop violence against women with conversations about respect.
However, long-term cultural change must be our goal. To create a safe, fair, and equal society we need to properly fund consent and respectful relationships education and provoke men and boys to be more than bystanders.

Boys must be taught the difference between healthy masculinity and toxic masculinity.

Women cannot protect themselves from murder by men. Only men can stop this.

Not all men disrespect women and not all disrespect towards women results in violence. But all violence against women starts with disrespect.
We look forward to meeting with you after your urgent national cabinet meeting this week to discuss how we can work together to address this national emergency.


Zali Steggall OAM MP - Member for Warringah

Zoe Daniel MP - Member for Goldstein

Kylea Tink MP - Member for North Sydney

Allegra Spender MP - Member for Wentworth

Kate Chaney MP - Member for Curtin

Dr. Monique Ryan MP - Member for Kooyong

Dr. Sophie Scamps MP - Member for Mackellar

Dr. Helen Haines MP - Member for Indi

Andrew Wilkie MP - Member for Clark

Andrew Gee MP - Member for Calare

Rebekha Sharkie MP - Member for Mayo