Malcolm Turnbull labels domestic violence a ‘national disgrace’

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says violence against women is one of Australia’s great shames.

Mr Turnbull today unveiled the first $41 million of a $100 million package to tackle the issue, including measures to better train frontline officers and funding for 20,000 mobile phones for at-risk women.

Noting that 63 women had been killed by their partners or a family member this year, Mr Turnbull said domestic violence is a “national disgrace”.


Leaders had to make it a national objective to make sure Australia was more respecting of women, Mr Turnbull said.

“We have to make it as though it was un-Australian to disrespect women,” he said, noting this would be a big cultural shift.

The prime minister cited research showing one in four young men thought it was acceptable to drunkenly slap their girlfriends.

“Let’s make it our resolution that Australia will be known as a nation, as a people, as a society that respects women,” he said.

Mr Turnbull was joined by Minister for Women Michaelia Cash as well as domestic violence campaigner and Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty.

Minister Cash said another important element of the government’s package is providing more support to the education sector, to help young people learn respectful relationships.

“I was delighted two weeks ago when the Curriculum Council announced that no later than 2017 respectful rel programs will be embedded in the Australian education curriculum and will be rolled out in schools across Australia, starting for kindergarten to grade 10,” she said.

“Its absolutely devastating that up to 25 per cent of  young people think it’s okay to slap a woman when you’ve been drinking.

“They also think that hitting a woman is just a sign of male strength. That is the size of the problem we are facing.

“We are making a $5 million investment to expand the Safer Schools website, again to ensure the resources that are being provided to teachers, parents and children are based on the best available research,” Ms Cash said.

Ms Cash also touched on the tragic death of young Gold Coast mother Tara Brown, who was allegedly murdered by her former partner.

“She did go to the police and unfortunately she was turned away,” Ms Cash said.

“I know there is an investigation that is currently being undertake in relation to that – but again it just highlights the need for our front line services to be better trained.”

The package includes $36.5 million over three years to train frontline employees, including police, social and community workers and medical staff.

Domestic violence units will be installed within legal assistance services and hospital staff in hot spots trained to recognise signs of trauma.

Police, social workers and emergency department staff will get an expanded “DV-alert” training program, worth $13.5 million, to help them better support vulnerable women.

Another $17 million will help protect women in their homes with security assessments and practical measures like changing locks, scanning for bugs and installing CCTV cameras.

Extra money will be given to the 1800RESPECT helpline and counselling service and the MensLine service that helps abusers not to reoffend.

There’s also a trial with the states involving technology including GPS tracking of perpetrators and police-call buttons for victims.

Mr Turnbull noted the great leadership shown by his predecessor Tony Abbott in setting up the taskforce and developing the package.

Labor welcomed the announcement as a good start.