27 January 2015 | General Interest
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced the proposed Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Family Violence — the first such government-backed inquiry in Australia’s history.
Announcing the Royal Commission, the Victorian Government said family violence was the most dangerous and prevalent form of violence perpetrated against women.
“We need a system that protects the vulnerable, punishes the guilty and saves lives. The Royal Commission will give us the answers we need and nothing will be off limits,” Premier Andrews said.
Justice Marcia Neave will chair the Royal Commission with Patricia Faulkner and Tony Nicholson serving as Deputy Commissioners. The Royal Commission is expected to commence in February 2015.
The proposed Terms of Reference task the Commissioners with finding the most effective ways to:
- prevent family violence
- improve early intervention to identify and protect those at risk
- support victims
- make perpetrators accountable, and
- improve the way that Government and society work together.
The effect of family violence is profound. Family violence is the leading cause of death and disability in Victorian women under 45. Every week in Australia, a woman is killed by her current or former partner.
The incidence of family violence across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is disproportionately higher in comparison to that in the broader Australian community.
In 2006-07 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls were 35 times more likely to be hospitalised due to assaults related to family violence than non-Indigenous women and girls (COAG 2011).
In 2013-14, there were 65,393 family incidents reported to Victoria Police, a rise of 83 per cent since 2009-10. A third of all police work, family violence costs the Victorian economy over $3 billion every year.
SNAICC welcomes the historic and ground-breaking initiative from the Victorian Government.
Family violence is a critical issue for our children and families and we commend the positive focus of the Royal Commission on future strategies for prevention and early intervention, which are desperately needed.
Considerations of the impact of family violence on children seem contained mostly within the child protection sector and there is a need for the Royal Commission to include a strong focus on children.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their organisations have a deep understanding and wealth of experience in strategies to effectively prevent and respond to family violence.
It is crucial that our communities and organisations are strongly consulted and that the Royal Commission has Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation.
The Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, Andrew Jackomos, told SNAICC eBulletin that he also welcomed the Royal Commission.
Mr Jackomos said he had seen the impact that family violence is having on individual children through the Taskforce 1000 project that he co-chairs with the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
“So far the taskforce has considered about 250 Aboriginal children in out-of- home care across regional and metropolitan Victoria. Over 90 per cent of our children that we have looked at are being removed from families and living in out-of-home care as a direct result of family violence,” Mr Jackomos said.
He said the significant over representation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system across Victoria was not declining. Aboriginal children represent about 16 per cent of the approximately 6500 Victorian children in state care.
“We will only see a reduction if more focus is placed on the drivers of child protection, changing behaviours and building the cultural and timely responsiveness of interventions,” Mr Jackomos said.
“I remain optimistic that the terms of reference of the Royal Commission into family violence will lead to the development of practical recommendations that will strengthen families and create better outcomes for Aboriginal children.”