Draft national plan to end violence against women and children released, open for consultation

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The government emphasised the need to make sure the plan incorporates the experiences of victim-survivors.  (Unsplash: Molly Belle)

The government’s draft national plan to end violence against women and children has been released, showing what it thinks needs to happen and how it plans to get there.

It’s now open for public consultation and feedback for the next two weeks until January 31.

The wide-ranging plan covers a host of measures to prevent violence, as well as looking at how best to support victims during and after emergency situations.

Below is a snapshot of some of the key policies or ideas included in the plan, but if you’d like to read the full document for yourself you can read it, and also give feedback, here.

What’s in the draft plan?

The plan is taking a very wide look at what supports, services, policies and programs are needed across the community to help reduce violence against women and children and hopefully eliminate it one day. 

Unlike the last plan, which covered a 12-year period, this plan is for the next 10 years, broken up into two five-year action plans and two five-year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander action plans.

Why does this matter? Because a lot of organisations told the government the three-year funding cycles of the previous model were too short to get any meaningful results.

They argued that a five-year timeframe would give programs a better chance to make a difference.

As for how the plan is split up, there’s a bit of government speak … it has four “foundation principles” and four “national pillars”. 

Put simply, these are the areas or issues the government has grouped a lot of the policies and responses around.

The “national pillars” or key focus areas for the government are: prevention, intervention, response and recovery. 

The “foundation principles” are the broad themes on which the pillars are based.

They are:

  • Addressing gender inequality
  • Making sure victim-survivors have a seat at the table given they have the lived experience and advice to share
  • Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, elders and communities
  • Understanding that there will never be a “one size fits all” approach and it’s crucial to have an evidence-based approach that considers the diversity of people’s experiences

The government is clear that while the end goal is to eliminate violence, it’s a long road. So it’s adopted a “toward zero” approach.

How are we going to reduce violence?

Getting to a world without violence against women and children is obviously going to take a whole-of-community approach.

One of the areas the government thinks will continue to play a crucial role is prevention, which it says “underpins the foundation of our long-term strategy”.

It involves continuing to change community attitudes that “justify, excuse, trivialise, normalise or downplay violence against women and children”, by embedding prevention education far and wide, in homes, schools and workplaces.

That includes teaching children and adults alike what makes a respectful relationship, consent, empowering bystanders to challenge disrespect or harassment toward women and look at what role pornography plays in contributing to harmful behaviours.

There will also be a specific focus on working with men and boys to promote “healthy masculinities”, and normalise relationships that are built on “respectful, fair, ethical, safe and supportive” behaviours.

The government says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be resourced to design and implement their own work culturally appropriate work to prevent violence, which will address intergenerational trauma through, in part, truth telling and strengthening community connections to culture.

The other area focused on reducing or preventing violence is early intervention including:

  • Breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma through targeted programs like those during pregnancy and after relationships break down
  • Providing opportunities for men and boys who are violent to change their behaviour through support programs
  • Developing more programs for perpetrators both in the community and in the justice system to reduce re-offending
  • Build community capacity to enable people to identify violence early

What’s in it to help people fleeing violence?

As you could imagine given the high demand on domestic and family violence services, there’s a lot in the plan to support and improve these services in the most holistic way possible.

One of the common threads through the different “focus areas” and the general attitude is that things need to be victim-survivor centred and as much as possible the systems need to be easy to access and avoid women and children having to repeatedly tell the story.

Two of the focus areas are making sure services to support victim-survivors are resourced with skilled and qualified staff, and ensuring there’s crisis and long-term housing options for women and children escaping violence.

But the plan doesn’t say how much money would be put toward these measures.

Domestic violence support services and emergency housing providers have struggled with increased demand during the pandemic, with both sectors calling for more funding to ease some of the pressure and make sure women are safe.

In last year’s budget, the government set aside $998 million over the next four years to reduce violence against women and children.

To put that into perspective, just before the budget Women’s Safety NSW estimated the sector needed $1 billion a year just for frontline services.

The plan also calls for improved legal responses and training on all forms of violence, including coercive control — a type of manipulation that some jurisdictions are considering criminalising.

The last focus area is to tackle the role technology plays by supporting young people and women when they experience “technology facilitated abuse”, and working with the financial sector to take action and prevent financial abuse.

How can it measure if it’s working?

The plan outlines a few ways the government will check if the policies are actually making a difference.

The first is by setting targets … but exactly what the targets are is still being worked out.

The government has included some “possible targets” like having a “significant” reduction in the number of adults who experience sexual violence, compared to survey results from previous years.

The big one is that the new Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission, which was announced last year, is going to be responsible for monitoring and reporting on how the plan is going.

It’ll involve an “evaluation” after the first year to see how the implementation is going, then an “impact evaluation” by 2026 to look in more depth at the progress over the first five years of the plan.

There will be a final impact evaluation at the end of the 10 years.

The government also wants to see states and territories continue to build on improvements to data recording, with more national surveys to be undertaken in the future.

Source: Thanks msn.com