SENATOR THE HON KIM CARR
CHAIR SENATE LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS REFERENCES COMMITTEE
SENATOR FOR VICTORIA
SENATOR AMANDA STOKER
DEPUTY CHAIR SENATE LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS REFERENCES COMMITTEE
SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND
INQUIRY INTO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WITH PARTICULAR REGARD TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN
The Chair and Deputy Chair of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee References Committee would like to reject media reports that the committee has not discharge its responsibility to the Parliament and the public in a recent inquiry into domestic violence.
The number of women in Australia who have died at the hands of a current or former partner has not reduced significantly since 2010, with between 72 and 105 women killed this way in each year since, and numbers fluctuating rather than reducing. Both the Chair and Deputy Chair are deeply concerned about these statistics – as all Australians should be.
The committee was given very specific terms of reference by the Senate:
(a)That the Senate notes the inquiries relating to domestic violence in Australia undertaken by the Finance and Public Administration References Committee in 2014-2015 and 2015-2017, and the 2019 Auditor General’s report on implementation of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022.
(b)That the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, informed by the reports named at (a), inquire into and report, by not later than 13 August 2020, on domestic violence with particular regard to violence against women and their children,…
In deciding how to approach the inquiry, the committee was determined to avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’.
The committee formed the view that conducting another lengthy, broad-ranging public inquiry into domestic and family violence in Australia at this time would be of limited value.
Instead the Committee’s report sought to add to the store of knowledge that's available to the Senate so that we can inform public policy accordingly.
The Committees’ report made detailed recommendations but also recommended a more focused Senate inquiry is required by the correct Senate committee.
The Parliament already has a Joint Select Committee inquiry on Australia's Family Law System and the recently created the COAG Women’s Safety Council to inform inquires.
The committee also produced a detailed analysis of the most recent steps taken by Governments to address domestic and family violence during COVID-19.
This inquiry was referred to the committee which already had a high workload and had previously not inquired into the issue, with the Community Affairs committee and the Finance and Public Administration References Committee undertaking previous inquiries.
Ultimately the Committees’ detailed report was unanimously adopted by Labor, Coalition and Greens Senators, all of who attended the meetings of the committee.