Budget boosts community safety and security

Media statement

May 3, 2022

Victorian budget 2022-23

Tania Maxwell MP says state budget funding to plan for a redeveloped public residential aged care home in Bright, build a new aged care home in Mansfield, and create an alcohol and other drugs (AOD) residential rehabilitation centre in Mildura will boost family safety and security in Northern Victoria.

The Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party MP asked the government to support Alpine Health’s Bright high-care aged care and hospital redevelopment project and a drug treatment and recovery facility in Mildura when she delivered her budget submission to Treasurer Tim Pallas MP on February 8.

“The Treasurer’s announcement today that Alpine Health will get $1.52 million to help it plan the redevelopment of Hawthorn Village to become a 40-bed residential aged care home means grandparents and parents will be able to look forward to staying in alpine communities close to their families and friends as they grow older,” Ms Maxwell said.

“Mansfield families will enjoy the same opportunity with a commitment from the government that Mansfield District Hospital will share in $146m to develop one of three new, much-needed residential aged care homes in regional Victoria,” Ms Maxwell said.

“For the western end of my electorate, I asked the Treasurer when I met him to consider allocating $35m for a drug court and alcohol and other drugs (AOD) rehabilitation unit in Mildura.

“The budget announcement of $36m for this unit is a really important step towards improving safety in Sunraysia communities and, now that it’s been made, I’ll continue to press for Mildura to be added to the network of Victoria’s drug courts.

“A major study has shown that re-offending can drop by one third and offences become less serious in communities where drug courts operate. The impacts of drug use and related crime also drop in communities where rehabilitation services are available.”

Ms Maxwell said funding for 82 new mental health beds would include the addition of 16 beds to the existing 20 beds in a redeveloped, modern acute care centre at Northeast Health Wangaratta, and new beds and land purchases for Goulburn Valley Health’s expansion in Shepparton.

“I raised in March the need for acute mental health services for 12-to-15-year-olds with Mental Health Minister James Merlino so I’m pleased to see the government further funding mental health support for young people.

“It’s providing $1.1m for place-based youth programs including Youth Live4Life, $6.6m to continue the Healthy Heart of Victoria program in the Loddon-Mallee region, and $12m to support group-based parenting counselling to improve infant, child and youth mental health and wellbeing.

“Support for justice and policing is also very welcome.

“The provision of $14m to support victim-survivors of sex crimes so they can get help and, as much as possible, avoid the trauma of re-telling their experiences when dealing with the police and justice systems is overdue.

“It’s good to see the government attach value in the budget to a proposal put last month by Justice Party colleague Stuart Grimley MP for an online alternative for sexual assault reporting.”

“A specialist family violence court is to be established in Bendigo, together with a Koori court to consider cases involving Indigenous Australians, specialist court services are to be expanded in the Loddon-Mallee, and $342m is to fund an extra 502 police and 50 protective services officers.”

Ms Maxwell said emergency service funding included:

  • $42m for the state’s emergency response workforce and fuel management
  • $25m to replace and renew critical bushfire emergency assets and resources
  • $10m to boost energy supplies
  • $9m for Country Fire Authority stations
  • $2.4m to continue to the Victoria’s powerline bushfire safety program

Image: Tania Maxwell MP (left), Tim McCurdy MP, Alpine mayor Sarah Nicholas, Alpine Health chief executive Nick Shaw, and Helen Haines MP .

[Photograph montage, December 2021]

Maxwell welcomes emergency action budget

Media statement

May 3, 2022

Victorian Budget 2022-23

Tania Maxwell MP has welcomed the state government’s $457 million budget commitment towards improving ambulance response times.

The Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Member for Northern Victoria said she had pushed successive emergency services ministers since 2019 to fix performance problems that can be life-threatening in regional Victoria.

The government today announced spending of $333m to recruit another 400 call-takers and despatchers to the Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority and $124m to recruit and train another 90 paramedics, improve ambulance fleet management and staff rostering, and reduce bottlenecks at hospital emergency departments.

“I’ve been raising ambulance service issues consistently with the government across the past three years,” Ms Maxwell said.

“I’ve brought to ministers’ and parliament’s attention many times the challenges my communities face with Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority call-handling, ambulance emergency response times, hospital ramping and how community paramedics and first-responder services could be supported to reduce the strains on our health system.

“But the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath seem only to have made things worse.

“When every second counts, the latest Ambulance Victoria performance data shows Northern Victorians had to wait 50 seconds longer on average in the three months to the end of March than they did for an ambulance to arrive at a code one call-out in the previous quarter.

“Across 27 local government areas in my electorate, people wait on average 20 minutes 16 seconds for an ambulance called to an emergency, almost two minutes more than they did a year ago.

“And in Indigo in the North East, one of our smallest shires by population and area, the latest data shows the average emergency response time has blown out three minutes in the past quarter, to 24:51 minutes, and more than 2:12 minutes in the past year.

“At the same time, there’s been good news for Mansfield residents, where code one call-out average response times have improved 2:18 minutes in the past quarter and 4:24 minutes in the past year.

“But in so many areas, like Towong (31:08 minutes), Yarriambiack (25:27), Buloke (27:23), Loddon (26.20), Hepburn (20:20), Murrindindi (24:43) and Strathbogie (24:00) the wait is still way too long.

“So, I’ll be asking the government for detailed assurances about the benefits my communities can expect from the extra funding announced in today’s budget after Parliament resumes next week.”

Ms Maxwell said hospital ramping – where patients wait on-board in hospital emergency ambulance bays for medical attention – was still critical last week with reports of 30 ambulances ramped at emergency departments and delays at 12 major hospitals of up to seven hours.

“The additional budget money directed at reducing emergency department bottlenecks, more resourcing for emergency call and despatching staff and $698m for the ‘Better at Home’ health program is welcome, but is it enough?” she said.

“Regional hospitals have been at code yellow alert levels for months and the strain on staff is really biting.

“I’ve also recently requested a briefing from the Minister for Emergency Services about the recommendations from the ESTA review made by former Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton and, while I am yet to hear back, I look forward to this discussion taking place as a priority.”

Victoria Police stalker screening pilot underway

JOINT STATEMENT

April 4, 2022

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party MPs Tania Maxwell and Stuart Grimley have welcomed a Victoria Police move to pilot stalker screening that the party proposed in its submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s stalking inquiry last year.

Police today revealed their trial of a new tool called Screening Assessment for Stalking and Harassment that profiles stalker behaviour and can be used to prevent serious violence.

SASH has been actively used in The Netherlands since 2015 to strengthen police awareness of stalking risks through a data-driven system that triggers alerts about offender behaviour.

DHJP recommended the VLRC stalking inquiry examine the system used by Dutch police to track stalker psychological patterns and alert law enforcement to escalating risks.

The Dutch framework includes:

  • Continued education and training for all police officers in stalking behaviours, ‘red flags’ and actions.
  • An algorithm-based checking system designed to ensure no stalking cases are missed or misidentified. This digital trawl of all police information management systems flags cases logged in the previous 24 hours for certain words and phrases. The cross-referenced data is then checked by an officer who assesses whether any cases are stalking-related but may not have been marked as such when logged.
  • A Screening Assessment for Stalking and Harassment (SASH) tool refined by Australian, British and Swedish clinicians and researchers that weighs victim and stalker risks of persistent, escalating and violent stalking.
  • An enhanced communication and co-operation case management system where a single police officer case-manages an allegation to completion, and is responsible for notifying agencies that should be involved, such as child protection services.

Tania Maxwell MP:

This is a very significant trial at a time when stalking offences outside family settings have increased more than 12 per cent in 12 months in Victoria.

Celeste Manno lost her life to stalking in 2020. Di McDonald is still living every day with the impacts of trauma from a stalker who pursued her for more than three years.

Behavioural training for police and technology come together in SASH to deliver a powerful tool that can make our communities safer.

Stuart Grimley MP:

We welcome the pilot of SASH in Victoria which we’d recommended in our submission to the VLRC’s stalking inquiry last year.

It’s crucial that we have better training and education for police in this area, as well as a modern system created to detect an offender’s risk.

We look forward to seeing the government’s response to the stalking inquiry after it has been tabled but welcome the proactiveness of Victoria Police to start making cultural and procedural change as a matter of urgency.

Victims’ strength and bravery seeks to change justice system

Media statement

March 24, 2022

Tania Maxwell has recognised victim-survivors’ strength and bravery for putting changes to Victoria’s criminal justice system in an eight-month parliamentary inquiry initiated by the Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party MP.

The Member for Northern Victoria – welcoming today’s release of the inquiry report by the Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee – said its recommendations were influenced by victim-survivors’ submissions.

“I stand here today to say I hear you, and this report is for you,” Ms Maxwell told victim-survivors seated in the Legislative Council gallery.

“I hope the recommendations in relation to victims of crime support will be accepted and implemented by the government as soon as possible.

“Some of the these are not new to this Parliament and focus on the recurring theme that prevention and early intervention is essential for fair, just, safe communities.

“Some will require further debate, and while I made a deliberate decision not to submit a minority report, I will put on record my strong opposition to any watering down of practices or laws that protect our community from high-risk, violent offenders.

“We must make sure that any reforms brought about by this inquiry reduce risk, support community safety and balance the rights of victims over those of offenders.

“Otherwise, we may simply reduce statistics without actually reducing crime or the harm that accompanies it.”

Ms Maxwell said victim-survivors’ decisions to share their experiences with the committee revealed deep and enduring suffering that usually flows from the impact of crime.

“When I brought my referral motion to Parliament in June 2020, I noted that significantly driving down crime has to be a goal that we all share,” she said.

“With more than 50 per cent of people incarcerated in Victoria going on to re-offend, I wanted the committee to investigate the drivers of recidivism, how we safeguard our community against violent offenders, and also ensure our corrections system is sufficiently ‘corrective’ in its action and outcomes.

“This required considering the justice system across all stages and in its totality, from supporting at-risk and vulnerable children before they’re born, to crime prevention, policing, corrections and courts.

“We examined the opportunities for reform to break what is often a downward spiral of offending for those caught up in crime, and ultimately how we can limit the lifetime of suffering for those who are victims and survivors.

“I look forward to the government’s careful consideration of the 100 recommendations in this report and I will continue to advocate for their implementation, especially the 31 directed at better supporting victims of crime.”

Ms Maxwell also drew attention to apparent consensus in submissions by legal services and other stakeholders advancing an increase in the age of criminal responsibility to the committee.

“While this is something that may be considered by the government, I would emphasise that without the implementation of evidence-based early interventions and primary prevention frameworks, this would not be a sensible or practical initiative at this time,” she said.

“The report discussed diversion programs and other alternatives to incarceration for young people and I hope that those opportunities will be strongly considered by this government.”

NOTE

The Legislative Council on June 3, 2020, supported the referral of Tania Maxwell’s motion for an inquiry in Victoria’s criminal justice system to the Council’s Legal and Social Issues Committee to examine:

  • Factors influencing Victoria’s growing remand and prison populations
  • Ways to reduce rates of repeat offending (recidivism)
  • How to ensure judges and magistrates have appropriate knowledge and expertise when sentencing and dealing with offenders, including an understanding of recidivism and the causes of crime; and
  • Appointment processes for judges in other jurisdictions, especially reviewing skill sets required for judges and magistrates overseeing specialist courts.

Visit Legal and Social Issues (parliament.vic.gov.au) for the inquiry’s specific terms of reference.

The first of the inquiry’s public hearings was held in Wangaratta on June 30, 2021.

Image: Victim-survivors Cathie Oddie (centre), Di McDonald (back left), Tracie Oldham (obscured), Lee Little and Thomas Wain, and inquiry chair Fiona Patten MP at a media conference following the inquiry report’s release at Parliament on March 24, 2022.

Tania Maxwell moves to make Parliament a safer workplace

Media statement

March 22, 2022

Tania Maxwell MP wants major party and cross bench support for a Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission inquiry into workplace safety in Victoria’s Parliament.

The Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Member for Northern Victoria will put a motion to the Legislative Council tomorrow that would direct Parliament’s presiding officers, with the agreement of both houses, to ask the commission to establish the review.

“The Victorian Parliament has an important role to play as an exemplar of best practice in the prevention of, and response to, bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault in workplaces,” Ms Maxwell said.

“But we’re out of step with the community’s rightful expectations in 2022.

“Victoria’s code of conduct for ministers is dead-silent on these issues.

“And so is the Members of Parliament (Standards) Act 1978 which sets out MP responsibilities, and Parliament’s standing orders, which apply only to MPs when they’re inside either of the chambers.

“On the other hand, the codes of conduct for Victorian parliamentary officers and for electorate officers are clear – these staff must follow the spirit and letter of discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation laws.

“Yet Parliament is a workplace for MPs, electorate officers, parliamentary advisers, ministerial staff, parliamentary officers, parliamentary precinct employees and contractors.

“There is not a single mechanism for all who work here that ensures we can be held to the same standards of behaviour, that we can be safe, and that an independent workplace standards body is available to deal with complaints free from political interference.

“That’s why I’m moving for the VEOHRC to examine the adequacy of existing laws, policies, structures and complaint mechanisms relating to bullying and harassment in the Victorian Parliament.

“My motion also asks the commission to advise on improvements and the establishment of an independent complaints body to manage and respond to complaints about bullying and harassment within the Parliament in the context of a confidential and supportive environment.”

Ms Maxwell said a proposal flowing from consultation with MPs in 2020 and 2021 to establish a ‘Workplace Standards Commissioner’ appeared to have gone nowhere.

“But such a standards commissioner would have dealt only with complaints about MP behaviour, according to what we were told at the time,” she said.

Motion

That this House —

(1) acknowledges the unacceptable history of bullying and harassment in workplaces;

(2) understands the important role the Victorian Parliament can play as an exemplar of best practice in the prevention and response to bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault in workplaces;

(3) recognises that the Victorian Parliament is a workplace for Members of Parliament, electorate officers, parliamentary advisers, ministerial staff, parliamentary officers and precinct employees and contractors;

(4) directs the Presiding Officers to jointly write to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner requesting that the Commission inquire into and report to the Presiding Officers on —

(a) the adequacy of existing laws, policies, structures and complaint mechanisms relating to bullying and harassment in the Victorian Parliament;

(b) improvements that may be made to existing laws, policies, structures and complaint mechanisms relating to bullying and harassment in the Victorian Parliament;

(c) whether an independent complaints body should be established to provide a mechanism to manage and respond to complaints about bullying and harassment within the Victorian Parliament, in the context of a confidential and supportive environment;

(5) requires the Commissioner to commence such an inquiry by consulting with the following employers affected by these terms of reference —

(a) Presiding Officers;

(b) Clerk of the Legislative Assembly;

(c) Clerk of the Legislative Council;

(d) Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services;

(e) Parliamentary Budget Officer;

(f) Executive Government;

(g) any other relevant employers identified by the Commissioner;

(6) requires the Presiding Officers to table the report in both Houses of Parliament;

and requests the agreement of the Legislative Assembly to the terms of this Resolution.

This statement was first posted on March 22, 2022, and updated when the Clerk of the Legislative Council recommended changes to the motion ahead of its tabling in the chamber.

Party welcomes tagging and tech to curb family violence

Media statement

March 18, 2022

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party (DHJP) has welcomed a $104 million federal government family violence prevention package, with $20m available to Victoria.

Western Victoria MP Stuart Grimley and Northern Victoria MP Tania Maxwell have been calling for such funding for a number of years.

The announcement comes as the latest data from Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency shows that family violence intervention order breaches remain far too high.

In Geelong, the agency recorded 2436 breach offences in 2021, compared with 1796 in Shepparton. The number of actual breaches may be much higher.

These ballooning statistics indicate that more drastic measures must be taken to stop family violence offenders breaching intervention orders.

DHJP has always been a staunch advocate for the use of global positioning system (GPS) devices to track family violence offenders.

The success of Tasmania’s offender-monitoring scheme shows these devices have a place in family violence responses.

Mr Grimley and Ms Maxwell recently met with a family violence victim whose child’s iPad location service was being used to track the mother. She was found by the offender at a refuge. Despite intervention orders in place and the offender being formally charged with family violence crimes, he still pursued her.

Research shows 99.3pc of family violence practitioners say their clients have been victimised using technology in some form.

In Victoria, the Protective Group offers a service to sweep devices of family violence victims to remove spyware and other GPS tracking applications. This service is currently privately funded, and offered to Orange Door clients, but should be considered eligible for funding from the Commonwealth allocation.

Stuart Grimley MP

DHJP has been calling for the use of GPS tracking devices since our election to the Victorian Parliament.

Earlier this year I asked the Minister for Police to consider rolling out additional training to Victoria Police officers to assist victims of crime in sweeping their devices to keep them safe from perpetrators. These funds could go towards this training.

As a former police officer, it was extremely difficult attending a family violence call-out. There are no winners from these horrible offences and often there are children involved. By providing services to clean devices and take away a form of control from offenders, it will make victims feel a little bit safer. I’ve often said that when we fund programs to prevent crime or other on-the-ground problems, we should prioritise the frontline services.

These are the people who have in-depth knowledge of the issues, and often need more support to implement programs and other initiatives.

Tania Maxwell MP

I visited Tasmania explicitly to explore Project Vigilance, which trialled the use of electronic monitoring for serious family violence offenders.

Electronic monitoring of serious family violence offenders has been proven to substantially reduce high-risk behaviours, such as assaults, threats and reports of stalking.

The Tasmanian trial recommended expanding the use of electronic monitoring and I see this as an important measure in Victoria to monitor repeat, serious offenders and help keep families safe.

Key outcomes of Tasmania’s Project Vigilance offender electronic monitoring trial:

  • 76 per cent decline in high-risk incidents
  • 75pc drop in assaults
  • 81pc drop in threats
  • 74pc drop in property damage
  • 100pc drop in stalking reports
  • In the six months following the removal of an offender’s electronic monitoring device, 80pc did not re-offend

Link to Project Vigilance: Evaluation – Project Vigilance – July 2021

Tania Maxwell strengthens victim protections

Media statement

March 9, 2022

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party late yesterday secured government agreement to extend protections for people harmed by crime from facing their offenders at Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal hearings.

Member for Northern Victoria Tania Maxwell MP successfully amended the government’s omnibus workplace safety bill* in the Legislative Council to stop stalkers and people threatening serious injury or death from attending or being notified of tribunal proceedings.

“Where a victim seeks help on the path to recovery, the government rightly wanted to prohibit someone who has committed, or is accused of committing, family violence or abhorrent sexual offences from being given notice of the time and place where the hearing is to occur,” Ms Maxwell said.

“This is a welcome protection for victims, but in Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party we believed the changes should go further.

“Threatening to kill, do serious harm and stalking happen within the home and family relationships.

“But these horrific offences also occur beyond it – where people work, socialise and communicate – and they’re widely reported as being markers for future violence.

“Threat re-offending occurs at twice the rate for all offenders in Victoria, and there’s no substantial difference in re-offending rates between family situations and elsewhere.”

Ms Maxwell said a Victorian Law Reform Commission paper had reported almost 13,900 stalking offences recorded by Victoria Police, with stalking in the context of family violence occurring at only a slightly higher rate than in other situations.

“Similarly, in the eight years to December 2019, more than 66,000 threat offences were recorded by police in Victoria,” she said.

“Nearly two thirds of these were threats to kill and more than half were associated with family violence.

“That means a substantial proportion were unrelated to family violence, and I think we have a responsibility to provide protection and support for those victims in the same way that we protect victims of family violence.”

Ms Maxwell said threat offences cause immediate fear but also limit a victim’s freedom of choice.

“Someone who has a fixation on a person, perhaps without even knowing them personally, can wreak havoc in their victim’s life,” she said.

“An opportune offender can use the knowledge of their target’s VOCAT hearing to offend again – such as placing a tracking device on the victim or their vehicle.

“Simply being in the vicinity of the tribunal can become an act of intimidation, alone deterring a victim from even making an application for assistance.”

Ms Maxwell’s amendment was also supported by the opposition.

Comments attributable to Di McDonald, a victim-survivor of stalking whose offender was jailed in 2020 for eight months and given a two-year community corrections order:

Stalking appears to still be a forgotten crime. To be told by a magistrate at the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal to come back when you have a case is truly horrific. To read a victim impact statement in front of the offender is also horrific.

To have stalking and threats to kill and commit serious injury now recognised is a huge step forward. I still have not been recognised for the psychological injuries suffered from my offender seven years ago.

I listened to the debate throughout. It was such a high-five moment when the bill passed. As a result of these amendments, future victims will now have their voices heard.

A massive thank you to Tania Maxwell and everyone for their persistence in highlighting these insidious crimes.

ENDS

* Workplace Safety Legislation and Other Matters Amendment Bill 2021

Image: Herald Sun

Labor needs to match SA party on child sex laws

March 7, 2022

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party is asking the Victorian government to follow South Australian Labor’s lead and commit to a suite of child sex offender law reform.

SA Labor has just announced the following promises ahead of the state election on March 19:

  • Introduction of a public sex offender register
  • New laws to keep child sex offenders in prison until they prove they can control their instincts
  • Strengthening penalties for a range of child sex offences
  • Lifetime electronic monitoring for serious child sex offenders released from prison
  • Strengthening online offending laws

The Victorian government should look to its SA colleagues’ strong initiative and crack down on child sex offenders.

The Victorian government today released its response to Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee Inquiry into Management of Child Sex Offender Information and failed to commit to vital recommendations, including:

  • Giving education providers annual funding to access preventative education around child sexual offending
  • Asking the Victorian Law Reform Commission to explore a Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme (similar to that operating in Western Australia and the United Kingdom)

This response is a slap in the face to child sexual abuse victims. The Victorian government should be bolder in its response to condemning this abhorrent behaviour.

If SA Labor can commit to these strong policies, but its neighbour can’t, then Victorian kids will be at risk.

“I was shocked to read that on the same day we have South Australian Labor announcing strong policies condemning child sexual abuse, the Victorian government is not endorsing committee recommendations to do the same here,” said Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party state leader Stuart Grimley MP.

“It baffles me that eight hours down the road from Adelaide, Victoria has a government that won’t commit to simple recommendations such as a limited child sex offender disclosure scheme. Parents have the right to know.

“It’s time to stop the politics and playing with children’s safety.”

Member for Northern Victoria Tania Maxwell MP said:

“Victorian Labor needs to show the same strong stance against child sex offenders as its SA colleagues.

“We need funding for preventative programs in schools. When every school-aged child has access to a laptop or tablet, why can’t Victoria have mandatory online education to make sure our kids are staying safe from predators?

“Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party was formed to take a strong stance against child sex offenders.  We’re working every day for fair, just, safe communities. We ask Labor to step up to the same goal.”

Tania Maxwell welcomes safer road projects

Media statement

February 28, 2022

Tania Maxwell MP has welcomed a $9.7 million state government investment to make Northern Victoria’s roads safer for drivers and local communities.

The Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party MP said Victoria will fund 20 per cent and the federal government 80 per cent for safety works at Avenel, Bendigo, Cosgrove South, Shepparton, Kilmore, Warracknabeal to Birchip, and Robinvale to Sealake costing almost $49m in the third round of the national Road Safety Program announced last week.

“I’m really pleased to see money for improvements to the complicated and dangerous intersection where Jones and Tarcombe roads join the Hume Freeway at Avenel, which the community and I have been chasing for almost three years” Ms Maxwell said.

“The funded project, costing $720,000, will improve signage and line-marking and that’s a good step.

“The Victorian and federal governments say the changes will help drivers and riders correct their actions approaching the intersection, reducing the risk of serious injuries and fatalities.

“After numerous meetings, I last talked with advisers to Roads and Road Safety Minister Ben Carroll MP and Regional Roads Victoria six months ago to put the community’s solutions for a safer freeway intersection on the table.

“Following a safety review promised in May 2020, and since carried out by Regional Roads Victoria, the concept plans for the fix the community’s been seeking were due in December.

“But the people of Avenel are still waiting. They deserve to see this sorted.”

National Road Safety Program jointly-funded works have to be finished within six months.

Details of projects funded in round 3:

Strathbogie Shire

Avenel – Safety improvements including improved signage and line marking.

Cost: $720,000 total, $144,000 (V = Victoria), $576,000 (Aus = federal). Signage and line marking provides a greater opportunity for drivers and riders to correct their actions before an accident occurs. It is expected that improving signage and line markings will result in a reduction in serious injuries and fatalities.

Greater Bendigo

Bendigo-Redesdale Road (C327) and Kairn Rd, Bendigo – Construction of new traffic signals including raised safety platforms, shared users’ path and other associated works.

Cost: $1.4m total, $288,000 (V), $1.15 (Aus). Raised safety platforms provide greater visibility of pedestrians and combined with pedestrian operated signals improve pedestrian behaviour and compliance resulting in a calmer environment to safely cross the road. Starting round 3.

Greater Shepparton

Midland Hwy (A300) Stage 5. Installation of continuous safety barriers including road widening and associated works on up to 6km of road between Cosgrove South and Benalla.

Cost: $18.9m total, $3.78m Victoria, $15.1m federal. Safety barriers prevent run off road crashes, collisions with fixed objects (such as trees) and reduce the severity of injury when a crash occurs. Stage I began in round 2, stage 2 starting in round 3.

Central Ave/Midland Highway, Shepparton East – Pre-construction of new roundabout which include land acquisition and service relocation and other associated works.

Cost: $5.03m total, $1m (V), $4m (Aus). Roundabouts reduce travel speed at their entry point, and avoid conflicts between vehicles, thereby eliminating the opportunity for right turn and head on crashes at intersections.

Goulburn Valley Highway/Hayes Street, Shepparton – Pre-construction of new traffic signals and associated works.

Cost: $750,000 total, $150,000 (V), $600,000 (Aus). New traffic signals will improve traffic flow, increase road user awareness and reduce the risk of road crashes. Starting round 3.

Mitchell Shire

Northern Hwy (B75), Kilmore. Implementation of 40km/h speed limit reduction through installation of electronic speed limit signs (ESLS) and other associated works.

Cost: $1.36m total, $272,000 (V), $1.08m (Aus). Reduced speeds and provision of greater visibility of pedestrians and cyclists reduce the likelihood of a crash and the severity of injury should a crash occur. Starting round 3.

Swan Hill, Buloke and Yarriambiack shires

Southern Mallee area various locations – Widening the road and other safety improvements at various locations: C223 Nhill-Jeparit Road C221, Promonal Road C242, Warracknabeal-Birchip Road C214, Horsham-Noradjuha Road.

Cost: $15.4m total, $3.08m (V), $12.3m (Aus). Road widening allows for a safe correction to driver error when there is an unintentional departure from the travel lane as well greater comfort for all drivers when the mix of vehicles includes heavy vehicles. Stage 1 started in round 2, stage 2 starting in round 3.

Narrow seals: Robinvale-Sea Lake Road – Stage 3. Road widening and other safety improvements.

Cost: $5.04m total, $1m (V), $4m (Aus). Road widening allows for a safe correction to driver error when there is an unintentional departure from the travel lane as well greater comfort for all drivers when the mix of vehicles includes heavy vehicles. Starting round 3.

Image: Avenel Active chair Jen Arnold (left), member Helen Dawson, Tania Maxwell MP, former chair Jeff Moran and long-time intersection upgrade advocate Sandy Mackenzie discuss the safety project in Avenel on February 28.

‘End violence’ plan must place victims at its heart

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party calls for collaboration and change to end violence against women and children

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party commends the goal of a society free of violence and welcomes the recognition within the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children that violence causes significant and enduring harm to victims and victim-survivors. But any plan can only be as good as the actions that follow.

The party is of a firm view that state and national responses to violence must be victim-centred, provide appropriate interventions to address the causes of violence, and ensure offenders are held to account for their actions. Primary prevention and early intervention which is evidence-based and sustainably funded should be informed by a process of robust and transparent evaluation and the regular collection and analysis of data.

The process of challenging and changing societal norms that reinforce violent behaviours must be reflected by changes in our public institutions; including the response and supports to victim- survivors through the justice and health systems to reduce re-traumatisation, secondary victimisation and the risk to our community of continued and escalating offending.

Given the scale of violence in Australia and the complex and intersecting factors that contribute towards violence, it is our firm view that intervention programs must be delivered earlier and more intensively to deliver real change.

The National Plan recognises that trauma presents differently and uniquely for each victim. Assistance schemes and therapeutic supports should reflect this and provide flexible and enduring services to victim-survivors.

Our legal responses to violence should reflect the pervasive and invasive course of conduct behaviours that, on their own, may not constitute a criminal offence, but that in culmination bring great harm. These behaviours are often explicitly used by perpetrators of family violence, but also extend to other offending that can be familial or non-familial, such as stalking.

States and territories should work together to ensure that accountability and visibility of offenders is not reduced when they move between states. Information sharing and technology should support the work of police and agencies across and between jurisdictions to monitor high-risk offenders and manage risk for victim-survivors.

Read the submission

Image: Tania Maxwell and Lee Little, mother of Alicia Little – who lost her life to family violence in 2017 near Kyneton