A national women’s safety summit will be held in July, as governments and stakeholders work to shape the next national plan to reduce violence against women.
- A 12-year plan to reduce violence against women and children expires next year
- The national women’s summit will help shape what the next plan will seek to address
- Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wanted a national summit to address gender inequality
Federal Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston held a meeting with her state and territory counterparts on Wednesday before announcing the summit would be held on July 29 and 30 this year.
“As part of that summit we’ll be looking at a number of issues that we need to inform the next plan,” she said.
“And making sure that we get as many people together, as many stakeholders, so that the next plan is informed by voices of all Australians.”
The current 12-year National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children expires next year.
Senator Ruston said the safety summit would focus on the next stage of the blueprint, rather than broader issues affecting women, as called for by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“I actually think the time is now right for our country to have a national women’s summit to look at gender inequality,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Wednesday.
“To look at economic inequality, to look at action to address the gender pay gap, actions to address the superannuation gap, addressing issues of affordable childcare.”
However, Senator Ruston said the summit would be focussed around a “single goal”.
“The scope of the summit is obviously something that we will be in consultation with the state and the territories over coming months,” she said.
“But it’s very focused around women’s safety, and making sure that we have the best possible information base to be able to inform the next plan.”
Senator Ruston also revealed an online survey would open tonight, to allow members of the public to have their say on the next stage.
COVID-19 making national ‘crisis’ worse, advocates warn
Hundreds of organisations supporting women and children experiencing family and domestic violence have called for more funding, arguing demand is at unprecedented levels.
The sector received an additional $150 million during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that ends in June.
Ash Johnstone, an Aboriginal specialist worker from the Illawarra Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, warned resources were stretched.
“COVID has dramatically increased not only the incidents of domestic violence but also their complexity and the seriousness of them as well,” she said.
“Whereas before you could have, say, advise a woman to leave her home or that kind of thing, now we’re telling people to stay inside their homes and we’re really restricted with movement.
“We just need much more support so that we can support women going through these situations.”
Senator Ruston said the $150 million had been provided to the states and territories to distribute, and she had asked them for more information about how much had been spent and where the greatest demand was.
She said she would not pre-empt budget deliberations, but Treasurer Josh Frydenberg earlier insisted more funding would be made available, without specifying how much.
“We will continue to make more money available for this obvious area of need,” he said.
“In terms of these particular applications, obviously they will go through the normal processes. But I can be unequivocal in saying we’re putting a record amount of money into ensuring women’s safety and trying to reduce the incidents of domestic violence, which is at an unacceptably high level.”