Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall MP speaks on Domestic and Family Violence

28 November 2023

Intimate partner violence against women and children is our greatest national shame. Women are dying as a result of domestic and family violence at catastrophic levels in Australia—one woman per week. No part of Australia is untouched by this catastrophe, including the division of Warringah. According to the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, in the year to June 2023, there were 254 domestic violence related assault offences in the Northern Beaches. This was statistically similar to the previous year. It's not good enough. This is a crisis.

Four days ago I attended a fundraiser for the Northern Beaches Domestic Violence Network to acknowledge and raise money for the 32 organisations in my community supporting victims of domestic violence and to commence the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. During the evening, we held a vigil for the 53 women killed this year by partners. It was a sobering and harrowing but necessary reflection. Since that event, Catiuscia Machado was allegedly murdered by her partner. According to the count by Destroy the Joint, she was the 54th woman killed this year. Whilst intimate partner violence also impacts men, it overwhelmingly impacts women.

I want to acknowledge the recipients of the community awards from the Northern Beaches Domestic Violence Network—their work and support is essential: the Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services; Todd Darvas from Horizons Family Law for the Legal Support Award; Gabrielle Morrissey from Women and Children First for the Support and Rights Award; Link Wentworth Housing for the Community Organisation Award; Jo Kemp from Street Side Medics for the Service to Others Award; Robyn Stowe from WDVCAS for the Leadership Award; and Rachael Leah Jackson and Narelle Hand from the Northern Beaches Women's Shelter—absolute powerhouses.

We need to do more and move faster, with more urgency about what works on this issue. I pressed the Prime Minister in question time to act with more urgency. Staying Home Leaving Violence is a program run by the New South Wales state government. The Northern Beaches Women's Shelter and Women and Children First are calling for this program to also be introduced to the Northern Beaches. I call on the federal government to look at such programs and implement them more broadly, nationally.

We need to ensure that women and children escaping domestic violence have somewhere to live. The current system puts them, not the perpetrators, at risk of homelessness. It needs to be reversed. This program flips the burden of leaving the home from the victim to the alleged perpetrator, where it is appropriate. It's particularly important in my electorate, where housing is so expensive and difficult to come by. I urge the government to do more.