Tuesday 11 August 2020
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Australian PM - 1 month ago

Statements on Indulgence - Domestic and Family Violence

Mr Morrison: (Cook—Prime Minister and Minister for the Public Service) (14:00): I have consulted with the Leader of the Opposition through our offices today. As the member for Barton just spoke in this place of these terrible murderous events, the sad truth is they are not isolated inc they have happened on so many occasions. In taking this indulgence today, as we reflect in particular on the terrible crime that was committed against Hannah Clarke and her children, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey, we also speak of the terrible murders of so many others—mothers and children. Murder: that s what it is—murder that again, last Thursday, shocked our country. When Jenny and I spoke about it, we just couldn t get our heads around it, as I m sure is the case for every parent. It doesn t matter whether you re a parent or not, you can t imagine it. It is just too horrible to contemplate. The act itself, and that someone could perpetrate that act, particularly as a father, is incomprehensible. It s an act of such depravity that it only makes you ask: How does such evil happen on our land? To the Clarke family, all of us here extend our sympathies and our love. But I must wonder if that could ever be enough to cover the profound grief. They have shown incredible resilience and character in the worst of all possible circumstances. As best we can, we also send the country s love to you. In your grief, you have every right to be angry—furious—because everything we ve done across this country to protect women and children didn t protect Hannah and her children from this evil. I believe state and territory and national governments, our agencies and, importantly, the judiciary—all of us—must reflect again on these terrible murders. We must reflect on how and where the system failed Hannah and her children, as it has failed so many others. It s so frustrating. It s so devastating. Whilst this was the action of a depraved and evil man, we know enough of the circumstances leading up to the murders to know this should not have happened. There will rightly be an inquest in Queensland. I commend the Queensland government for taking that action, as they should. It will speak the truth, I have no doubt, as so many others have spoken the truth. And we already know this: Hannah deserved to feel safe and to be safe and to watch her joyous and wonderful children grow up; and Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey deserved to have a childhood that was innocent and to have lives that were long and joyous. For all of us in this chamber, the words family violence just jar. One can say those two words to they should never be to they have nothing to do with each other—quite the opposite, because our families should be the safest places in all of the world, particularly for our kids. But, sadly, all too often, they are not. We know that, as hard as it is to believe. One woman is killed every nine days by a partner or a former partner. One in six Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner since the age of 15. We know these figures. We ve spoken these figures I don t know how many times in this place. Regardless of who has sat on this side of the chamber or on that side of the chamber, we know these figures—or on this side of the chamber or on that side of the chamber in every state parliament in this country. Every two minutes somewhere in the country police are called out to a domestic violence incident. As members, we know that the Commonwealth, states and territories do work closely on tackling violence against women and children, and we must continue to do this together. This has been, I think, one of the shining lights of bipartisanship in this chamber, and in so many chambers around our country. I acknowledge the work, as I have done and others have done, on the establishment of the first action plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children from 2010 to 2022, which was commenced under the Rudd and Gillard governments. That was a great initiative. Now, as part of the fourth action plan, that spirit continues, that partnership continues—a partnership that exists not just across this aisle, which is closed by our commitment to addressing this, but between the state and territory governments and the Commonwealth as well. A record $340 million has been provided under this plan for frontline services to protect and support women and children. In total, since 2013, some $840 million has been committed to addressing domestic and family violence to carry on the work that was initiated by the previous Labor government. In August last year, COAG agreed to the fourth action plan. In November, we released the national implementation plan. It includes funding for prevention strategies and frontline services, including for groups which needed additional support, for safe spaces, as well as for 1800RESPECT. That 1800RESPECT line is open 24 hours to support people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse. When COAG comes together in a few weeks time, this will once again be on our agenda. This is a time for us all to reflect, but to reflect together. There are never any excuses—there are none—or justifications for the evil that Hannah and her children experienced. Never. Not under any circumstances. With the states and territories, and together as a parliament, we will continue to work together to translate these words, which I m sure the Leader of the Opposition will also state with the same passion, into actions and changes that make a real difference for women and children. This violent crime, this murder, sought to deny a woman her voice and her future. Let me read one of Hannah s last Instagram posts, which expressed a hope. She wrote: I am a Strong Woman— no doubt she was— I don t sit around feeling sorry for myself, nor will I ever let anyone mistreat me again … I am a survivor not a victim. I am in control of my life and there is nothing I can t achieve. My girls will grow up being strong women who understand their worth. This hope was crushed when Hannah and her children were murdered. We must work together, as we have been, for as long as it takes to restore that hope to those that we know, right now, today in this country, are living in exactly the same danger as Hannah and her children.


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