Work underway for Second National Plan to Reduce Violence against women and children

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Work underway for Second National Plan to Reduce Violence against women and children

August 13, 2021

Emerge is contributing to a Victoria-wide submission into a national plan to reduce violence against women and children.

Top of the agenda, as far as Executive Officer Paula Westhead is concerned, is the urgent need for social housing to enable women and their families to escape violence.

“There is limited to no social housing available across Australia and almost no three-bedroom accommodation in the area which Emerge supports,” Paula said.

The current national plan expires next year and work is underway to review and update the plan.

Focus areas identified so far include children, women from diverse backgrounds, coercive control, mental health, rural and remote communities, financial abuse and disability.

Goals include that by 2031 the rate of all forms of family and violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is reduced by at least 50%, all communities are safe and free from violence, justice responses are effective, and perpetrators are kept to account.

More work is needed to ensure that the new national plan achieves its objectives according to Paula Westhead.

“The current plan has not achieved its objective of a significant and sustained reduction in violence against women and their children despite over $3 billion spending over the course of the National Plan,” she said.

Paula Westhead and other advocates are also urging legislative changes to the Migration Act and Migration Regulations, and for these to include a new visa subclass for survivors of family violence, broadening the definition of family violence in the regulations, ensuring all survivors – whatever temporary visa they hold – can access social security and Medicare, and ensuring decision makers within the Department of Home Affairs are family violence trained and informed.

“We need deep, systemic change and that starts with greater government investment in sexual violence prevention and services,” Paula said.

She acknowledged that these changes take time, which is why Australia needs a long-term plan.

The current national plan is being delivered through four three-year action plans that build on each other. The action plans are designed to look back at what has been achieved and refocus on what actions will make the most difference in the future.


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