Ensuring violent offenders leave home

Adjournment speech

October 15, 2021

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (00:13): (1593) My adjournment is for the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence.

The government committed to keeping more victim-survivors of family violence safe in their homes, and the action I seek is for the minister to detail the number of perpetrators in my electorate of Northern Victoria who have been removed from the home as part of this program.

On August 17, 2020, the government announced it was directing more than $20 million to keeping perpetrators in full sight and victims in their home. As part of this, the program was to enable 1500 perpetrators of family violence to be moved into short-term or long-term accommodation and provide intervention and behaviour-change programs. This included support for the growing issue of adolescents using violence in the home.

The latest crime data ending June 30, 2021, shows family violence remains at an all-time high. More than 19,000 incidents of family violence in Northern Victoria occurred in the past 12 months. There were more than 5000 breaches of family violence orders and 1794 reports where the affected family member was a child. The coronavirus restrictions have placed some families into settings of increased isolation and risk. For children experiencing family violence, school is often the only safe space they have and provides a critical opportunity for them to get a break from the chaos and the stress of home and to connect with welfare staff at school.

For some vulnerable children, school might be the only place where they have access to food. Schools have remained open for vulnerable children, but we know not all at-risk children have been attending.

The only way to keep families safe is to stop perpetrators from offending. My colleague, Mr (Stuart) Grimley MP, referred very recently to the report of the family violence reform implementation monitor which said 500 men could be waiting to access a program at any one time. Many finished their community correction order without even completing the core program, which is meant to address their offending.

Keeping perpetrators of family violence out of the homes while they work to change their behaviour is certainly a step in the right direction. I suspect the critical shortages in affordable housing, particularly in regional areas, may complicate this policy rollout. But the shift from ‘Why doesn’t she leave?’ to ‘Make him leave’ is a very important statement for the rights of victims and moves the onus of responsibility to where it should be, which is absolutely with the offender.