HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [5.23 pm]: I rise tonight to acknowledge that tomorrow is the Annual Silent Domestic Violence Memorial March, which is held every year and which I know a number of members in this place and the other place attend every year. I have been going for many, many years. For those members who may not be aware, the memorial march is held to commemorate and honour people who have died over the past 12 months from family and domestic violence–related incidents. It is a very important moment to recognise the impact of family and domestic violence on our community and to call for improved attitudes and responses, particularly to keep women and their families safe. The Perth march is one of many marches and other events that are held around the state in November. Heartbreakingly, more than double the number of people are being remembered this year than was the case last year. Twenty-eight people have been killed in Western Australia this year as result of domestic and family violence. That compares with 12 people last year. That number is devastating.

Of course, although death is the ultimate impact of family and domestic violence, it is sobering to note that in Australia, almost one in four women have experienced physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner. Intimate partner violence is the greatest health risk for women aged between 25 and 44. Aboriginal women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence–related assault. Family violence is the single largest driver of homelessness for women. It is also a common factor in child protection notifications. It also results in police callouts every two minutes on average across the country. These are the firm statistics.

We know that domestic violence is preventable and we need to do more. Of course, the nature of domestic violence is that it is a very long term and complex issue. There are diverse reasons why it occurs. Therefore, we need to ensure that the organisations that are delivering essential services to victims of domestic violence can expect to receive sustainable long-term funding. I spoke recently in this place about funding for the Keeping Women Safe in the Home program. That has been a successful and effective program, but it no longer has ongoing funding. I reiterate that it is simply not okay for governments to fund important and essential programs, as the commonwealth originally did for the Keeping Women Safe in the Home program, and then just stop that funding. As I have said previously, I appreciate that Minister McGurk has stepped in with temporary support for that program. However, the program needs to be provided with an ongoing and sustainable, and preferably commonwealth-funded, income stream.

We know we can make a difference in many other areas. One area that was raised with me recently was the need for more training for our police and other workers to respond effectively to domestic violence in Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse communities. We also need more investment in Western Australia in family law services so that our interventions and supports can be made in a more timely fashion to help prevent issues escalating. I note that the WA Family Law Pathways Network regularly publishes a list of the current waiting periods for Western Australian family law services. It is worth members acquainting themselves with the waiting periods that we are talking about. Although I am pleased to note that there is no wait time for some services, such as advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau, or the Gosnells Community Legal Centre, of which my husband is a lifetime member, according to this month’s list there are extended waiting periods for other services. In particular, in Geraldton and Kwinana, the wait time for the family dispute resolution service is up to 16 weeks, so we are talking around four months, and it is up to about 13 weeks in West Leederville. In Mandurah and Gosnells, it can take up to 13 weeks to access parenting order programs. The six-week wait time currently faced by people who want to access the family dispute resolution service in Joondalup or Mandurah is obviously way too long for people who are in crisis. When we have the level of crisis that we are currently experiencing, we simply cannot afford to make people wait for weeks and weeks to receive services. People get injured during that time, and people also die in that time.

I encourage people to attend the twenty-eighth annual Silent Domestic Violence Memorial March through the Perth CBD tomorrow. It is a very sombre and moving event. I personally find it devastating to see the number of tiny coffins that are laid out to remember particularly babies who have been murdered. Clearly, many people in the community are aware of the need to stop domestic violence. We march to publicly recognise the tragedy of the current reality. We march for a future in which our daughters will no longer have a reason to march. We march for a future in which in any year there will be no deaths from domestic and family violence.


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