Victims’ experience can bring telling reform


December 3, 2021

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (17:18): (1693) My adjournment is to the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence (Hon. Gabrielle Williams MP), and the action I seek is for the minister to meet with a group of victims and victim-survivors of coercive control and family violence regarding the review into coercive control that was discussed in my motion last week.

I was very grateful last sitting week to have three people visit this Parliament as part of their call for a strengthened response within our justice system to the evidence and impacts of coercive control. Each of these individuals was in their own way subjected to horrendous violent offences involving someone in a position of intimate trust. Michelle Skewes’ husband was convicted of nine charges of rape against her during their marriage. Jay was subject to repeated violent attacks throughout her marriage, often in the presence of her children. Lee Little lost her daughter who attempted to leave her relationship in circumstances that were treated as murder until the charges were plea-bargained down to a driving offence.

Having gone back over Hansard from the debate, the government in speaking to my motion indicated that coercive and controlling behaviour can already constitute an offence in Victoria. Hansard shows Ms Terpstra saying all these forms of abuse or control can interact and all form part of coercive control or be singular offences in and of themselves. I think it is important to note that there is not a stand-alone offence of family violence but that charges arise under contravention of a family violence intervention order or some other offence like assault or stalking. With regard to coercive control, it is the experience of many victims I have spoken with that coercive control was given very little consideration in hearings relating to their intervention order applications, nor was it given much consideration when they faced court on charges of physical violence.

So there is a range of things to consider in this review, and I am very grateful for the productive dealings that I have had with the minister’s office to date on these important issues and also very encouraged from the support across the Legislative Council.

The individuals who attended Parliament last week, along with others, have experienced coercive control and are very keen to invite the minister to meet with them and discuss when and how the review will occur. I think this will give a great opportunity to take the next steps with victims and victim-survivors, to include them in these discussions and to empower them in the process. I would also like to say—and unfortunately he has left the chamber—that these victims of crime felt so honoured that (my Northern Victoria colleague) Mr (Mark) Gepp MP actually went out and spoke to them and listened to their stories, and they were extremely appreciative and very grateful for his time.

Government should boost regional media spend


December 3, 2021

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (22:10): (1683)

My adjournment is for the Minister for Government Services (Hon Danny Pearson MP), and the action I seek is for the minister to review the campaign expenditure requirement for advertising in regional and rural media.

It is government policy that regional and rural communities should have equal access to government communications and that regional media channels are used to deliver this. The Victorian government spent $84.6 million on media advertising for the 2019–20 financial year, and $9.5 million of this was spent on non-digital regional and rural media, which includes press, radio and outdoor advertising. This represents 17 per cent of the government’s total campaign advertising expenditure.

Departments and agencies are required to spend at least 15 per cent of campaign advertising expenditure on regional and rural media, so at least spending was slightly above this threshold. However, I suggest to the government that a 15 per cent base requirement is ridiculously low given the expanse of regional Victoria, the number of regional media outlets and the heavy reliance of local communities on local media for trusted information.

WIN Television’s Albury bureau closed in June 2019, and mid-year nine local bulletins were axed, including Shepparton and Bendigo. A number of print news outlets have shared concerns with me that the government has not utilised them for advertising, not only for COVID-19 pandemic information but across agencies and departments.

I was dismayed last week to learn that the ABC has cut Goulburn-Murray region local programming, and the 9.00-11.00 morning program has been replaced with a statewide show. ABC Goulburn-Murray, most recently with Sandra Moon and Alice Walker, has supported our region through the pandemic, with regular updates on border closures and restrictions. Back in the early days of my justice advocacy through the ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign, the ABC supported me on this program back when Joseph Thomsen was on the microphone. Last week I also received news of the closure of the Macedon Free Press, another blow for regional media.

Regional outlets provide essential information at times of natural disaster along with local context and scrutiny of state and federal politics. Losing local news is bad for small communities. In their absence people are turning to social media, where information published may not have the integrity of professional journalism. My constituents value their local media. Our government should value it too, not just for sharing important news stories but through advertising. There is a balance that can be achieved to support the survival of regional media and ensure our local communities have access to both local content and local context.

Justice and victim advocacy

Member statement

December 2, 2021

As the Parliamentary sitting year draws to a close, I would like to thank the thousands of people who have engaged with me over the year on issues that are important to them.  I appreciate the co-operative relationship I have with councils, services, organisations and community groups on the needs of Northern Victoria and I am committed to listening to you, working with you and advocating for you.

I acknowledge everyone in my electorate of Northern Victoria who faced all manner of challenges over another difficult year.

I am proud to put justice, community and advocacy for victims of crime at the heart of my work. This year the (Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Council legal and social issues committee) criminal justice inquiry took submissions and held hearings. (With my colleague Mr Grimley MP) we secured reviews into responses to stalking, coercive control and combatting illicit tobacco. We are working to further extend presumptive rights for firefighters, for improved ambulance response times and for equity in regional areas.

As we head into what I hope will be a beautiful summer, I also hope it will be safe for our regions and free of bushfires or other natural disasters.

Finally, I thank my team for their support and hard work over the year. I look forward to working for Northern Victoria and for victims of crime in the year ahead.

Thank you, and season’s greetings

Member statement

November 30, 2021

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (14:24): 

Well, it is that time of the year again. It is our last sitting week of Parliament, and I just want to take this opportunity to thank all the staff that make our day so much easier in here, from the clerks to the hospitality staff, right over to the Department of Parliamentary Services and the services and support that they provide to us.

The Table Office is another group of people who do an incredible job to ensure that our work is made so much easier.

To everybody in the Parliament—my colleagues in the Legislative Council, my colleague Stuart Grimley and most of all to my staff—I say thank you. My staff have worked tirelessly, and I know they are looking forward to having a bit of a break given that we have had (to represent our communities through) bushfires and COVID. It has been non-stop, and I really commend them for their loyalty, support and work.

I thank the Parliament itself for ensuring that we all get to go home safely every evening after work and for supporting us in the job that we do. I do wish everybody a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and I hope that it is very safe. I look forward to seeing you after the break.

Remembrance Day’s memory-keepers

Member’s statement

November 18, 2021

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (10:34):

A young lieutenant colonel at Wangaratta’s cenotaph on 11 November described Remembrance Day as Australia’s most significant war commemoration.

Scottie Morris, Army School of Ordnance commanding officer at Gaza Ridge Barracks near Wodonga, a former assistant attaché to the United Nations, told about 200 attendees of the Great War’s toll: Twenty million died. No corner of the European, North American or colonial world remained untouched by the years 1914 to 1918. And it endures.

As Lieutenant Colonel Morris observed, from the Armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918, we became the memory-keepers of a collective experience. One hundred and three years later school students Patrick Timmers and Abbey Collins from Cathedral College in Wangaratta read In Flanders Fields, and many local schools and college representatives laid wreaths. Rural City of Wangaratta traffic marshals stopped vehicles in the street for the ‘Last Post’, one minute’s silence at 11 o’clock, and ‘Reveille’ played with such skill by trumpeter Ben Thomas.

Thank-you to the Wangaratta RSL and Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral dean Ken Goodger for hosting this observance. By gathering we reinforced a tradition that endures unceasingly, sharing, as Lieutenant Colonel Morris said, our common respect for service in conflict, for the toll it took on those who fell, and for those who were left behind to pick up the pieces.

Lest we forget.

Child safety at the heart of ‘Day for Daniel’

Member statement

October 28, 2021

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (10:23):

Friday, 29 October, is ‘Day for Daniel’.

This is a very important day for the Morcombe family and the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, for Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, as their solid supporters, and for victims of crime and their families across Australia and around the world. Frankly it is an important day for anyone with a heart and a genuine concern for child safety.

While honouring the memory of Daniel Morcombe, who was tragically kidnapped and murdered by a convicted sex offender, ‘Day for Daniel’ is proudly Australia’s largest child safety education and awareness day.

More than 5500 schools and early learning centres across Australia have registered for the day. I encourage schools across Victoria to take the resources that the Daniel Morcombe Foundation provides to promote conversations about personal safety. Tomorrow, start the conversation with a child, family member or friend. It is up to all of us to keep our children safe.

Great work, Youth and Prize participants

Member statement

October 14, 2021

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (16:37):

This year’s Youth Parliament sitting week brought together bright young minds from across the state to debate key issues as a culmination of the Youth Parliament program run by the YMCA Youth Services.

This program educates youth on how our Parliament operates and encourages their participation. Congratulations to everyone who joined in the sitting day program, including those from Mildura, Castlemaine, Bendigo and Whittlesea in my electorate.

I had the pleasure recently to be one of the judges of this year’s Parliament Prize.

More than 600 video entries were received from Victorian students highlighting what they would say in Parliament if they were an MP, and there were many outstanding entries. I hope that we will see some of these young people elected into this place in the years to come.

View the judges’ comments and the winners’ responses. Girton Grammar School student Lily Ivey, from Central Victoria in my electorate, won the years 10-12 category prize with her speech about ‘Eating disorder education’. Congratulations, Lily!

Seymour petitions for on-call ambulance comeback

I’ve tabled petitions from almost 1100 citizens calling for on-call ambulance services to be restored in Seymour

Family violence offences jump 18 per cent

In Victoria every year more than 34,000 incidents of family violence occur where a child is present, putting them at risk

Remembering 9/11


September 14, 2021

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria): I rise to reflect on that horrific day in America 20 years ago known as 9/11.

A day that still ignites incredible sadness as each anniversary passes. To all who have been impacted by that tragedy, my heart goes out to you.

I think most Australians will remember exactly what they were doing at the time those planes hit the Twin Towers (in New York) and the other planes crashed into the Pentagon (in Virginia) and on the ground (near Shanksville, Pennsylvania).

This horrendous attack was committed by terrorists wanting to control and feel superior, wanting to show the world what they were capable of, by taking innocent lives.

Terrorists in our country have also wanted the same for us, and I take a stand here today to implore our government to hold those responsible for crimes of terrorism. Those incarcerated should remain in prison, to prevent a 9/11 happening in our country.

IMAGE: Flight 93 memorial, Shanksville, Pennsylvania. [NPR/Tim Lambert]