Party positions

Scoring on funding to address family violence (click to view)

The parties were asked a series of questions put together by family violence experts - Domestic Violence NSW, Domestic Violence Victoria, National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum, National Association of Community Legal Centres and No to Violence. Their policies were then scored out of a possible 10:

  • 1 point was available for their policy to guaranteed long-term funding and workforce capacity development for specialist services
  • 2 points were available for their policy to extra funding for specialist agencies to meet unmet demand
  • 1 point was available for policy to funding the specialist and culturally safe Family Violence Prevention Legal Services
  • 1 point was available for their policy on funding Community Legal Centres
  • 1 point was available for their policy on resourcing perpetrator interventions
  • 1 point was available for their policy on resourcing of Our Watch
  • 1 point was available for their policy on developing a new National Plan
  • 1 point was available for their policy on investing in capacity building and expanding primary prevention activities
  • 1 point was available for their policy on identifying and resourcing gaps

 

1. Guaranteed long-term funding and workforce capacity development for specialist services

The questions asked of the parties to score this section were:

Q1: Inadequate and unpredictable funding for family and domestic violence services limits the capacity of organisations to respond to the urgent and ongoing needs of people experiencing family violence.

Q1A: Would your party support the implementation of guaranteed, long-term funding and a ten year plan for workforce capability and development framework for services that work to prevent gender-based violence, support women and children, and intervene with perpetrators?

Q1B: Do you commit to ensuring funding for domestic and family violence related services is allocated to service providers with specialist expertise in the gendered nature and dynamics of domestic and family violence and its impact on victim survivors?

ALP

In their survey response, Labor indicated that they “know specialist women-led family violence services across Australia play an important role, particularly in facilitating a holistic approach to supporting women and their needs when escaping family violence. Labor will prioritise funding to these organisations for this purpose. Labor will promote sustainability and ongoing security for women’s services in Australia.”

They have also committed to a new 10-year National Plan to provide sustained national leadership and certainty to the sector, and to working with state and territory governments through the Council of Australian Governments to drive national action. They have committed to work closely with the sector on the development of the new National Plan. While this may leave space for the incorporation of workforce capability and development framework for services into that plan, it falls short of a commitment.

These commitments are all positive; but much of the funding commitments made appear to still be allocated via grants, rather than long-term funding commitments; and further detail is needed about their workforce capability.

Score 0.5 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP have indicated in their survey response that the ‘Community Grants Hub’ will ensure providers are informed about future funding arrangements at least 5-6 months before grants expire, in programs where service continuity needs to be maintained.

The LNP have indicated that they are committed to providing $26 million to continue the ‘Domestic and Family Violence Response training’ (DV-alert) program providing free, national training to increase capabilities of health and allied health and community workers supporting high-risk groups. But this is a tiny portion of what’s required to build workforce capability.

They have responded that “organisations funded by the Government need to demonstrate expertise and understanding commensurate with the service they provide.” This response is concerning in light of the LNP government’s recent allocation of $10 million to ‘individual or couple broad-based counselling and dispute resolution services’. The LNP government categorised these as “Specialist Family Violence Services”. This reflects a lack of understanding of the nature and dynamics of domestic and family violence. Couple counselling and dispute resolution can increase risks to the safety of the person experiencing violence by holding both people responsible for the relationship and thereby minimising or justifying the behaviour of the person who is using violence.

The LNP have no apparent commitment to ongoing funding in the question areas, but instead have committed to providing grants, which operate on a much shorter timeline. These commitments appear ad hoc and also do not provide sufficient evidence of an overall strategy and plan for a ten year plan for workforce capability and development framework for services.

Score 0.25 / 1

 

The Greens

The Greens have responded to the survey questions indicating that they support the implementation of guaranteed long-term funding for services, and a ten year plan for workforce capability and development framework for services. Their response also indicates that they are committed to ensuring funding for domestic and family violence services is allocated to providers with specialist expertise. But within the Greens’ policy commitment to $5.3 billion secure funding over ten years, it’s unclear what their specific commitment is towards developing a workforce capability and development framework, or how they will address the unpredictable funding of services. Further detail is needed for full marks in this area.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

2. Extra funding for specialist agencies to meet unmet demand

The question asked of the parties to score this section were:

Q2. Inadequate and unpredictable funding for family and domestic violence services limits the capacity of specialist agencies to respond to the urgent and ongoing needs of those affected. How much extra funding will your Party provide to specialist agencies to meet unmet demand?

 

ALP

The ALP have committed $660 million in the Fourth Action Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

This includes a commitment to match the LNP’s $328 million of funding over the forward estimates in the most recent budget. This is a positive commitment.

On top of that commitment, the ALP has also indicated they are committed to providing additional funding to specialist Family Violence Prevention Legal Services ($21.5 million), Specialist Domestic Violence Units and Health Justice Partnerships ($21 million), Community Legal Centres ($42.5 million), and for grants for community-based prevention programs and front-line services which includes specialist perpetrator programs ($62 million). They have also indicated that funding will be dedicated to funding programs working specifically to address violence against First Nations women, culturally and linguistically diverse women, women with disability, and LGBTIQ communities.

The ALP are yet to commit to a more significant expansion of funding for the frontline case management and crisis response work of other specialist domestic and family violence agencies above that included in the commitment to match the LNP’s $328 million commitment.

Further funding is needed to address all unmet need across all specialist services, but this is a positive initial commitment.

Score 1 / 2

 

LNP

The LNP committed $328 million of funding for the Fourth Action Plan over the forward estimates in the most recent budget. This commitment includes a $60.4 million grants program to provide new or expanded emergency accommodation facilities for those escaping family and domestic violence, as well as $18 million to continue investment in the Keeping Women Safe in their Homes program. It also includes $10 million to deliver Specialised Family Violence Services in up to 16 additional sites.

This package included positive funding commitments for crisis response, accommodation and long-term prevention. But the package has significant gaps, including in the areas of legal assistance (including Community Legal Centres, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services) and perpetrator intervention.

The amount committed by the LNP overall is not sufficient to address current unmet demand across several specialist agencies.

Score 0.25 / 2

 

Greens

The Greens have committed $5.3 billion over ten years ($2.2 billion over four years) to address family violence, and note that specialist agencies would benefit from this funding, to be allocated on the basis of prioritising groups most at risk of family and domestic violence, especially women, LGBTIQ+ people, migrants and people with disability.

This is a significant and positive commitment to funding to meet unmet demand, and we welcome the focus on prioritising groups most at risk. More information is required to understand how this policy will be applied to meet unmet demand across particular specialist agencies. In particular which specialist agencies would be funded; and whether or not perpetrator intervention specialists working with men to reduce violence, in order to improve the safety of women and children, would be included within this prioritisation. Further policy detail is needed for full marks.

Score 1.75 / 2

 

3. Resourcing of Family Violence Prevention Legal Services

The question asked of the parties to score this section were:

Q3. Family Violence Prevention Legal Services provide specialist and culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but are currently limited to just 14 locations.

Q3A. These services have not received the standard CPI level increase on their direct funding since 2013, the equivalent of a $9 million real loss of funding. Would you reinstate this funding?

Q3B. Would your Party commit to providing long term increased funding to properly resource the capacity of the current Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, and to increase geographic coverage of FVPLS including to urban, rural and remote areas - estimated at an additional $28 million annually?

Q3C. Will your party commit to long-term, ongoing funding for the National FVPLS Forum?

 

ALP

The ALP have made strong commitments to expansion and ongoing funding for FVPLSs, including $21.5 million over the forward estimates, which will be provided as part of a $90 million Preventing Family Violence Legal Services Fund. This is a very positive commitment that addresses loss in funding; and expands the services’ ability to extend geographic reach. In their survey response the ALP have yet to make a commitment to long-term, ongoing funding for the National FVPLS Forum.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP made a pre-Budget announcement which continued funding for case management at some of the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services for a further year – but this was simply a continuation of existing funding, rather than providing any additional or new resourcing.

The LNP have recently made some additional grant funding available for the overall goal of support and prevention strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, which FVPLSs may be able to secure new grants through. But it is not guaranteed to result in any funding for FVPLS. And, the entire pool of funding the LNP have committed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focused services ($35 million over three years) is smaller than the additional funding FVPLS alone need to meet national demand ($28 million each year).

The LNP are also still yet to commit to CPI increases, or ongoing funding for the National FVPLS Forum. Right now Family Violence Prevention Services and their National Forum only have funding guaranteed until 2020. The LNP have not committed core funding beyond this point.

Score 0 / 1

 

Greens

In their survey response The Greens indicated that they are committed to reinstating direct funding; the provision of long-term increased funding to properly resource the capacity of current FVPLSs and also to increase geographic coverage; and also to long-term, ongoing funding for the National FVPLS Forum.  

The Greens have indicated that their policy is to provide $118 million to Family Violence Prevention Legal Services over the forward estimates. They have also committed to reinstating the FVPLS as a standalone program with a direct allocation of funding, long-term secure funding agreement and CPI increases for all members. This commitment meets the ask.

Score 1 / 1

 

4. Resourcing of Community Legal Centres

The question asked of the parties to score this section were:

Q4. Community Legal Centres provide vital free legal advice to hundreds of thousands of people across Australia every year, including people experiencing family violence.

Q4A. Community legal centres continue to face funding uncertainty and are insufficiently funded to meet rising demand for services. In 2014 the Productivity Commission recommended that an immediate injection of at least $120 million per year of additional federal funding was required by the legal assistance sector to meet demand. This would mean at least $14.4 million additional federal government funding per year for Community Legal Centres alone. Will your party commit to at least $14.4 million additional core funding per year for community legal centres?

Q4B. A number of community legal centres have specialist family violence units and health justice partnerships. A recent evaluation of these units and partnerships highlighted the significant difference they make in the lives of women experiencing family violence. Would your Party support and provide funding for national roll-out of these units and partnerships?

 

ALP

As well as matching the LNP’s commitments in this area; the ALP have also committed $20 million in additional core funding for community legal centres around the country, $42.5 million additional funding over 3.5 years for community legal centres to provide legal and related help to people experiencing family violence, and $120 million for financial rights legal assistance. They have also committed $4 million to the sector’s peak body to strengthen its leadership and advocacy role for the sector.

Labor have also committed $21 million over 3.5 years to double the number of Specialist Domestic Violence Units and Health Justice partnerships that provide specialist support to people experiencing family violence. That will mean an additional 18 Specialist Domestic Violence units and five extra Health Justice Partnerships providing specialist support to women in hospitals, health services and in the community.

This is an extremely strong commitment to funding Community Legal Centres and will enable them to meet significant unmet need for their services. While the ALP are yet to commit to full expansion of the Health Justice Partnerships, the commitment to double them is an excellent initial commitment. Given this strong initial investment and clear commitment to resourcing in this area in the short term, full marks have been awarded for their commitments in this area.

Score 1/1

 

LNP

The LNP have made some positive commitments in this area: providing funding certainty for Community Legal Centres and a small increase in funding in the last Federal Budget. They have committed to ongoing funding to existing specialist domestic violence units and health justice partnerships, including funding to allow service providers to maintain their services and expand delivery to include financial counselling and literacy services.

However the scale of additional funding provided is not sufficient to meet demand for services and the LNP are yet to make any commitment to scaling up specialist domestic violence units and health justice partnerships.

Score: 0.25/1

 

Greens

The Greens survey response includes a commitment to provide at least $14.4 million additional core funding per year for CLCs; and to support and provide funding for national roll-out of specialist family violence units and health justice partnerships.

The Greens policy includes a $408 million commitment (over four years) to community legal centres, including an extra $40.4 million to extend and nationally roll out specialist domestic violence units and health justice partnerships to keep people experiencing family violence safe. The Greens have also committed $6.8 million for the national and State and Territory peak bodies.

Greens: 1/1

 

5. Resourcing of perpetrator interventions

The question asked of the parties to score this section were:

Q5. Would your Party provide additional federal funding to expand perpetrator responses and interventions, including men’s behaviour change programs, case management, fathering programs and other specialist interventions, estimated by No To Violence to require an additional $88.2 million of federal funding annually?

 

ALP

The ALP have committed an additional $62 million in community-based prevention programs and grants for frontline services - including programs working with children who have experienced violence, sporting clubs, perpetrator programs and community groups.

In their survey response the ALP have indicated that those grants will be available for men’s behaviour change programs, case management, fathering programs and other specialist interventions. And also that the grants will also support frontline services, building the capacity of practitioners to ensure they have expertise in the prevention of violence.

While these are positive commitments to increase the funding available for perpetrator intervention programs; the amount available for this broad grants category is nowhere near the amount needed to address unmet need in the perpetrator intervention space. More funding is needed to address violence at its source; and to expand the reach and range of services able to work with men who are using or at risk of using violence.

Score 0.25 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP have made no separate dedicated funding commitments to this issue; to ensure expansion of the services that work with men using or at risk of using violence. 

While the LNP have made some commitments to making grants available through more general family violence focused pools, there is no indication that these will result in any allocations to perpetrator services, and are extremely unlikely to result in significant funding for expansion of perpetrator services to meet unmet demand and ensure specialist services can work with men who have identified they are at risk of using violence; or have been referred for assistance.

Score 0 / 1

 

Greens

In their survey response the Greens indicated they are committed to providing additional funding to expand perpetrator responses and interventions, estimated at $88.2 million of federal funding annually. This commitment meets the policy ask, though further detail is needed on how funding for responses and interventions would be allocated.

Score 1 / 1

 

6. Resourcing of Our Watch

The question asked of the parties to score this section were:

Q6. Our Watch is the National Foundation for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and their Children. It oversees and leads the implementation of the national strategy to prevent violence against women. Does your Party support the provision of long term, core funding of Our Watch of $5 million annually?

 

ALP

In their survey response the ALP indicated that they established three national bodies to prevent and respond to violence against women - ANROWs, OurWatch and 1800RESPECT - and “will maintain the national apparatus needed to drive cultural change and inform future responses”.

The ALP have committed to continue the existing Commonwealth funding allocated by the Government under the Fourth Action Plan, which constitutes continued funding of Our Watch at current levels for at least three years. The ALP have also indicated that they will deliver a new 10 year national plan.

Taken together, these survey responses indicate a long term commitment to continuing the work of Our Watch at last at current funding levels, as a key part of the national apparatus needed to deliver on a new 10 year national plan. But the ALP are yet to specifically commit to an increase in funding to support the long term, core funding of Our Watch’s work.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP have committed to continue the existing Commonwealth funding under the Fourth Action Plan, which constitutes continued funding of Our Watch at current levels for at least three years. The LNP have committed to ensure the current National plan is evaluated; but have yet to commit to another 10 year National Plan to address violence against women and their children. Given that, there is no long-term funding commitment to Our Watch beyond the next 3 years. The LNP are also yet to commit to increase funding to support the long term, core funding of Our Watch’s work.

Score 0.5 / 1

 

Greens

The Greens survey response includes a commitment to provide long term, core funding to Our Watch of $5 million annually. Their $5.3 billion policy commitment includes long-term secure funding support for Our Watch and ANROWS, as national experts. This commitment meets the policy ask.

Score 1 / 1

 

7. Developing a new National Plan

The question used to score the parties in this area was:

Q7. Does your party commit to develop a new National Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children after 2022 based on consultation with the specialist sexual, domestic and family violence sector and incorporating learnings from the evaluation of the current plan?

 

ALP

The ALP have committed to deliver a new 10-year National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. The ALP have pledged to work closely with the sector on the development on the new plan, and to ensuring the new Plan includes dedicated national strategies for: First Nations women, women with disability, culturally and linguistically diverse women and LGBTIQ people. The ALP have also committed to set targets to reduce rates of family violence; and to re-establish a National Advisory Group to guide the development of the National Plan.

Score 1 / 1

 

LNP

In their survey response the LNP indicate that funding is set aside to ensure the Fourth Action Plan is evaluated to ensure next steps are evidence based. While this comment suggests that there will be some kind of next steps, the LNP do not appear to have a policy regarding another National Plan after 2022.

Score 0.25 / 1

 

Greens

The Greens indicated in their survey response that they are committed to developing a new National Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children after 2022. The survey response notes that Greens policy would expand the current Fourth National Action Plan, and that the Plan would be augmented in close consultation with the specialist sexual, domestic and family violence sector.

The Greens policy commitment also includes a ‘new ten-year, $5.3 billion National Partnership Agreement on Domestic Violence and Violence Against Women between state and federal governments’.

While further information is needed about the Greens’ policy regarding the development or length of the new National Plan, and how it would differ from or improve on the current National Plan, these commitments meet the policy.

Score: 1 / 1

 

8. Investment in capacity building and expanding primary prevention activities

The question asked of the parties to score this section were:

Q8. Would your Party support investment to build the capacity of practitioners in community groups, government, organisations and key sectors to ensure they have expertise in the prevention of violence, and are able to expand the reach of current primary prevention activities?

 

ALP

The ALP have committed to match the Government’s existing commitments to the $68.3 million prevention package; which includes funding for Australia’s first Prevention Hub to coordinate prevention activities nationally; continuation of the ‘Stop it at the Start’ national campaign; and continuing prevention programs through workplaces, sports clubs and other community organisations.

On top of this the ALP has also committed $35 million in grants to deliver respectful relationships education in schools. This is a record amount of funding for expanding prevention; and while more further detail and funding is needed in this area, it is a strong commitment.

The ALP have also indicated that their $62 million grants pool for community-based prevention programs and grants for frontline services will also support frontline services, building the capacity of practitioners to ensure they have expertise in the prevention of violence.

As there is not yet enough detail about what the $68.3 million prevention package included in the most recent budget entails, it’s unclear what investment has been committed to building the capacity of practitioners across key sectors - further information is needed about commitments in this area.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP have committed a $68.3 million prevention package in the most recent federal budget; with funding for Australia’s first Prevention Hub to coordinate prevention activities nationally; continuation of the ‘Stop it at the Start’ national campaign; and continuing prevention programs through workplaces, sports clubs and other community organisations.  

This is a record amount of funding by a Government for expanding prevention; and while further detail and funding is needed in this area, it is a strong commitment.

As there is not yet enough detail about what the $68.3 million prevention package entails, it’s unclear what investment the LNP are committed to in building the capacity of practitioners across key sectors - further information is needed about commitments in this area.

Score 0.5 / 1

  

Greens

The Greens responded to the survey indicating that yes, they do support investment to build the capacity of practitioners to ensure they have expertise in the prevention of violence, and are able to expand the reach of current primary prevention activities.

But the Greens policy does not appear to provide any detail about what that would involve. Further information is needed for full marks.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

9. Identifying and resourcing gaps

The questions asked of the parties to score this section were:

Q9. Would your Party commit to reviewing the domestic and family violence system to identify the funding gaps that are within the Commonwealth’s area of responsibility?

Q9A. Does your Party commit to develop a national strategy for ensuring all people affected by domestic and family violence can access emergency, transitional, long-term and affordable housing, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, culturally and linguistically diverse and LGBTIQ people and people with a disability?

Q9B. How much additional funding would your Party commit to ensuring children and young people who are experiencing, or at risk of, domestic and family violence receive early and ongoing specialist support that is tailored to their unique and complex needs?

 

ALP

The ALP has committed to invest in an additional $60 million for refuges and emergency accommodation, including modern core-and-cluster facilities that accommodate older children and better facilities for younger children. Including at least $20 million for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled refuges and safe houses.

They have also committed to invest in an $88 million Safe Housing Fund to deliver transitional housing for women and children escaping violence, older women at risk of homelessness and young people exiting out of home care.

In support of long-term affordable housing, the ALP have also committed to build 250,000 new affordable rental properties. They have also pledged to address over-crowding in remote Indigenous communities (a leading contributor to Indigenous homelessness) with a $1.5 billion ten-year investment in housing in remote Indigenous communities.

The ALP have indicated their new ten-year National Plan will include dedicated strategies to address the needs of First Nations Australians, culturally and linguistically diverse people, LGBTIQ people and people with disability.

The ALP have also committed to provide funding through the Fourth Action Plan to deliver targeted prevention programs for vulnerable or at-risk groups, including young people who are experiencing, or at risk of, domestic and family violence. They are also committed to piloting Integrated Safety Response services for at-risk families. This approach will coordinate services to deliver early interventions to help women and children on the path to safety, and will also support perpetrator behaviour and change programs. This is a positive commitment but further information is needed about how these services would be tailored to the unique and complex needs of children and young people.

Score 0.75 / 1

  

LNP

The LNP have committed funding to Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and agencies such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to undertake ongoing work to understand gaps and produce high quality reports on family, domestic and sexual violence.

The LNP have also indicated that they have committed $1.5 billion annually under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement; including $620 million over five years in dedicated homelessness funding. In addition under the Fourth Action Plan, the LNP committed to a $60 million Safe Place package, providing capital grants to establish new and existing emergency or crisis accommodation for women and children escaping family and domestic violence. $18 million is also provided towards the Keeping Women Safe in Their Home Program.

It is not clear from the LNP’s survey response what, if any, additional funding they would allocate to ensuring children and young people receive specialist services tailored to their unique and complex needs.

Score 0.5 / 1

 

Greens

The Greens have responded to the survey indicating that they are committed to: reviewing the domestic and family violence system to identifying funding gaps in Commonwealth areas of responsibility; and developing a national strategy for ensuring all people affected by domestic and family violence can access housing.

The Greens policy includes a commitment to $500 million per year to fund transitional housing and crisis services. They will guaranteed this funding for ten years to give service providers certainty. They are also committed to greater investment in public and community housing to reduce the need for crisis services; and to provide greater rights for renters to ensure more people have a secure, affordable home.

The Greens responded to the survey indicating that they will provide additional $5.3 billion of funding over ten years as their commitment to addressing family and domestic violence; to be allocated on the basis of prioritising groups most at risk, including children and young people.

This is a positive commitment; but further information is needed about how these services would be tailored to the unique and complex needs of children and young people.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

For further information about the parties' responses, you can read the full party responses to Fair Agenda's election survey by clicking on the links below:

The Australian Labor Party (click to open)

Coalition (Liberal and National Parties) (click to open)

The Greens (click to open)

 

Scoring on Taskforce on campus sexual violence (click to view)

The parties were asked a questions put together by campaign partners Fair Agenda, End Rape on Campus Australia and National Union of Students. Their policies were then scored out of a possible 1.

The question asked to score this section was:

Q1. Sexual violence is the most significant safety issue on university campuses right now. Too many universities and residences are still failing to appropriately respond to, and prevent, sexual violence.

Will your party commit to establish an independent and expert-led Taskforce to track, assess and publicly report on university and residences’ measures to prevent and improve responses to sexual violence?

 

ALP

In direct response to advocacy from Fair Agenda, End Rape on Campus Australia, National Union of Students and The Hunting Ground Australia Project, and the bravery and advocacy of students and survivors speaking up and advocating for action on sexual violence over decades; Labor have committed to establish an independent, expert-led Taskforce to crack down on sexual harassment and assault at universities, residential colleges and TAFEs.

This Taskforce will be tasked with providing policy leadership and advice on evidence-based prevention measures, track universities’ responses, and recommend ways responses can be strengthened to meet best-practice. This will improve transparency and accountability.

The Taskforce, to be chaired by an eminent Australian, will be made up of experts with professional experience in preventing and responding to sexual violence, as well as a student representative.

The Taskforce will also be supported by a stakeholder reference group consisting of representatives of universities, student bodies, advocacy groups, the National Tertiary Education Union, departmental stakeholders, and an Australian Human Rights Commission representative. It will be resourced with a budget of $1.8 million over the forward estimates.

The ALP have also committed that all universities and residential colleges will have to publish annual data on the number of reports and formal complaints made, to improve transparency and better track progress. And that penalties may be imposed on universities that fail to take serious action to protect their students, including in extreme cases the option that the Education Minister could even withhold government funding.

Labor’s commitment to a well-resourced Taskforce will help ensure transparency and accountability for universities and residences failing to do the right thing. Their commitment to holding universities who fail to act for student safety to account is particularly positive.

Score: 1/1

 

LNP

Despite consistent advocacy from students, survivors and advocacy groups, the Government has failed to commit to an independent and expert-led Taskforce on campus sexual violence


Despite positive efforts by former Coalition Education Minister Simon Birmingham, that led to draft terms of reference being developed, Taskforce members being selected, and announcement dates for a Taskforce being discussed (as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 22 November 2018), this critically important accountability mechanism was shelved.

The Coalition currently has no policy commitment in this area. The Coalition’s policy does not meet the ask.

Score: 0/1 (No commitment)

 

Greens

The Greens’ have responded to the survey indicating that they are committed to establishing an independent and expert-led Taskforce in consultation with experts and women’s groups to track, assess and publicly report on the prevalence of sexual violence and university and residences’ measures to prevent and improve responses to sexual violence. This commitment meets the ask.

Score: 1/1

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For further information about the parties' responses, you can read the full party responses to Fair Agenda's election survey by clicking on the links below:

The Australian Labor Party (click to open)

Coalition (Liberal and National Parties) (click to open)

The Greens (click to open)

 

 

Scoring on workplace sexual harassment (click to view)

The parties were scored in this area by Fair Agenda and NOW Australia.

Overall note: While a National Inquiry into workplace sexual harassment is currently underway, we are seeking commitments from the parties to not only consider those recommendations, but also to act upon them and to commit funding to realising them where required. While we recognise action also needs to be taken to continue to address internal party policies on this issue; these questions and this scorecard are focused on national policy commitments, rather than internal party policy.

 

1. Prevention

The questions asked to score this section were:

Q1. What are your party’s policies to ensure dedicated prevention efforts to address the underlying gendered drivers of sexual harassment?

1.A Will you invest in integrated strategies for primary prevention, aligned with the national framework, Change the Story – both within workplaces and across the broader community?, and build capacity of employers to prevent sexual harassment?

 

ALP

The ALP has committed to placing a national focus on the prevention of sexual harassment in workplaces (and other locations).

The ALP have committed to match the Government’s commitment to a $64 million violence prevention package; which includes funding for Australia’s first Prevention Hub to coordinate prevention activities nationally; continuation of the ‘Stop it at the Start’ national campaign; and continuing violence prevention programs through workplaces, sports clubs and other community organisations.

The ALP has also committed $35 million in grants to deliver respectful relationships education in schools. This is a record amount of funding for expanding prevention; and while more further detail and funding is needed in this area (for example, to expand the work of national prevention foundation OurWatch), it is a strong commitment.

The ALP has also committed to create an independent Taskforce to crack down on sexual violence at universities, TAFEs and residential colleges; including on sexual harassment. The Taskforce will drive important prevention initiatives to address the underlying drivers of sexual harassment. Further information is needed about the specifics of policies to build the capacity of employers to prevent sexual harassment.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP have committed $64 million prevention package; which includes funding for Australia’s first Prevention Hub to coordinate prevention activities nationally; continuation of the successful Stop it at the Start national campaign; and continuing prevention programs through workplaces, sports clubs and other community organisations.

This is a record amount of federal government funding for expanding prevention, while more is needed (for example to expand the work of national prevention foundation OurWatch), and further detail is required, this is a positive commitment.

Score 0.5 / 1

 

Greens

The Greens policy outlines support for primary prevention programs, like Change the Story developed by Our Watch. Their policy includes a commitment to roll out respectful relationships education, as well as a nationally consistent sexual education curriculum, across the country.

The Greens also have a commitment to a new ten-year $5.3 billion National Partnership Agreement on Domestic Violence and Violence Against Women. As part of that funding commitment, the Greens are committed to provide long-term secure funding support for Our Watch, the national primary prevention Foundation. Further information is needed about the specifics of policies to build the capacity of employers to prevent sexual harassment.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

2. Legal duties

The questions asked to score this section were:

Q2. What are your party’s policies on providing stronger and clearer legal duties on employers to prevent sexual harassment at work, and to ensure regulators are more effectively able to tackle sexual harassment?

2.A Will you amend work health and safety regulations and Codes of Practice to create an enforceable framework to prevent and address sexual harassment?

2.B. Will you ensure Commonwealth work health and safety agencies are resourced and trained to effectively address sexual harassment?

2.C. Will you updated Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws to impose an enforceable positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment, supplemented by guidelines for compliance?

2.D. Will you grant the Commonwealth human rights commissions greater investigation powers, the power to enter into enforceable undertakings, and the power to issue compliance notices, to more effectively address sexual harassment?

 

ALP

The ALP has committed that they will ensure the Sex Discrimination Act and the powers of the Commissioner are adequately protecting women against harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender and family responsibility. They have indicated that they believe the legal framework and complaints mechanisms surrounding sexual harassment should be reviewed to ensure the legal framework keeps pace with community expectations and advances in anti-discrimination law systems in comparable jurisdictions. The ALP have also indicated that they are committed to a fair, expedient process in the workplace relations system.

Following the announcement of the National Inquiry, Labor wrote to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to indicate priorities the ALP hope to see addressed as part of that Inquiry, including: limitations of the complaints process and enforcement of the Act reliance on enforcement in relation to sexual harassment, specifically including the reliance on enforcement through individuals pursuing complaints, and the powers and capacity of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner; as well as exploring approaches of jurisdictions that supplement their anti-discrimination and harassment law systems with positive duties.

The ALP have committed that they will work closely with stakeholders to take action on the recommendations of the National Inquiry when it is released. While they have not yet committed to implement the recommendations, or to specific changes advocated by the sector; their submissions shows strong support for change.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP have noted that they have funded the current National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, as a positive and meaningful step forward in reducing sexual harassment; and ensuring that when it does occur, it is dealt with sensitively and appropriately. In their survey response they have noted that the Inquiry is “intended to inform consideration of the effectiveness of existing remedies.”

The LNP have stated that they are “Clearly committed to having effective remedies but it would be premature to proposed specific actions until the report and recommendations are received and considered.”

The LNP have not yet committed to implement the recommendations, or to specific changes advocated for by the sector.

Score: 0.5 / 1

 

Greens

The Greens survey response includes commitments to the sector’s asks to: amend work health and safety regulations; ensure Cmth work health and safety agencies are resourced and trained to effectively address sexual harassment; update anti-discrimination laws to impose an enforceable positive duty on employers; and grant the Cmth Human Rights Commission greater powers to enter into enforceable undertakings and to issue compliance notices.

These are very positive survey commitments; but the Greens policy does not provide detail on broader policies regarding legal duties on employers to prevent sexual harassment at work, and to ensure regulators are more effectively able to tackle sexual harassment. Further policy information is needed for full marks.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

3. Complaint processes

The questions asked to score this section were:  

Q3. What are your party’s policies to ensure access to fair, effective and efficient complaints processes?

3.A Will you amend the Fair Work Act to protect workers from sexual harassment with a stand-alone civil remedy provision to enable the Fair Work Commission to receive complaints and the Fair Work Ombudsman to tackle sexual harassment?

3.B Will you amend Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation to extend the time limit for bringing a complaint to 6 years?

3.C Will you resource the Commonwealth human rights commission to reduce the current wait times for conciliation?

 

ALP

The ALP has committed to ensure the Sex Discrimination Act and the powers of the Commissioner are adequately protecting women against harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender and family responsibility, and that the Sex Discrimination Commissioner is adequately resourced to do so.

Following the announcement of the National Inquiry, Labor wrote to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to indicate priorities they hope to see addressed as part of the Inquiry, including limitations of the complaints process and enforcement of the Act reliance on enforcement in relation to sexual harassment, including: the time threshold for application and termination of a complaint; and the powers and capacity of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

The ALP has also indicated they will work closely with stakeholders to take action on the recommendations of the National Inquiry when it is released. Taken in combination, these are positive commitments that provide encouraging indications about the ALP’s action on fair, effective and efficient complaints processes after the National Inquiry, but still fall short of a commitment to make these necessary changes.

Score: 0.75 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP have noted that they have funded the current National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, as a positive and meaningful step forward in reducing sexual harassment; and ensuring that when it does occur, it is dealt with sensitively and appropriately. In their survey response they have noted that the Inquiry specifically requires the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to consider the current legal framework, including the time limit on complaints.

The LNP have indicated that they will consider any changes to the existing protections in the Fair Work Act following completion of the National Inquiry.

The LNP have stated that they are “Clearly committed to having effective remedies but it would be premature to proposed specific actions until the report and recommendations are received and considered.”

The LNP have not yet committed to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations, or to specific changes advocated for by the sector.

Score 0.25 / 1

 

Greens

The Greens survey response includes commitments to the sector’s asks to: amend the Fair Work Act to protect workers with a stand-alone civil remedy provision; to extend the time limit for bringing a complaint to 6 years; and to resource the Cmth human rights commission to reduce wait times for conciliation. The Greens have also indicated they would support changes to the Fair Work Act to enable the Fair Work Commission and the Ombudsman to tackle sexual harassment.

These are very positive survey commitments; but the Greens policy does not provide detail on broader policies regarding fair, effective and efficient complaints processes. Further policy information is needed for full marks.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

4. Advocacy and support

The questions asked to score this section were:

Q4. What are your parties’ policies to ensure access to appropriate advocacy and support for workers who experience sexual harassment, including access to information, counseling and legal services?

4.A Will you fund specialist support services to assist people who have experienced sexual harassment?

 

ALP

The ALP have also committed $42.5 million to community legal centres around the country, boosting frontline services that provide legal assistance to women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. They have also committed $64 million to the 1800 RESPECT phoneline. They have yet to commit to providing further services to expand specialist support and access to information for women affected by workplace sexual harassment.

The ALP has indicated they will work closely with stakeholders to take action on the recommendations of the National Inquiry when it is released. But have not yet committed to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations, or to specific changes advocated for by the sector.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP have made some positive commitments to services that provide legal assistance to women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace: by providing funding certainty for Community Legal Centres, and a small increase in their funding. They have committed to ongoing funding to specialist domestic violence units and health justice partnerships, including funding to allow existing service providers to maintain their services and expand delivery to include financial counselling and literacy services. They have also committed $64 million to the 1800 RESPECT phoneline.

They have yet to commit to providing further services to expand specialist support and access to information for women affected by workplace sexual harassment.

The LNP have not yet committed to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations, or to specific changes advocated for by the sector.

Score 0.25 / 1

 

Greens

The Greens policy platform includes a $408 million commitment (over four years) to community legal centres, services that provide important frontline support to people affected by workplace sexual harassment.

The Greens survey response includes a commitment to funding specialist support services to assist people who have experienced sexual harassment. That is a very positive commitment; but The Greens policy does not provide detail on regarding this access to appropriate advocacy and support. Further policy information is needed for full marks.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

5. Reporting tools

The questions asked to score this section were:

Q5. What are your party’s policies to ensure accessible reporting tools?

5.A Will you pilot an online reporting tool that assists people to report and address problem behaviour and seek support, and identify trends to assist with prevention and enforcement efforts?

 

ALP

The ALP has committed to work closely with stakeholders to take action on the recommendations of the National Inquiry when it is released, and have committed to ensuring that workers experiencing workplace harassment are able to address this through a fair, expedient process in the workplace relations system. But are yet to make specific commitments regarding accessible reporting tools, or to resource all the recommendations.

Score 0.5 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP have indicated that they will consider any changes to existing tools and enforcement following completions into the National Inquiry.

The LNP have not yet committed to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations, or to resource them.

Score 0.25 / 1

 

Greens

The Greens survey response includes a commitment to piloting an online reporting tool. That is a very positive commitment; but the Greens policy does not provide any detail on broader policies to ensure accessible reporting tools. Further policy information is needed for full marks.

Score 0.75 / 1

 

For further information about the parties' responses, you can read the full party responses to Fair Agenda's election survey by clicking on the links below:

The Australian Labor Party (click to open)

Coalition (Liberal and National Parties) (click to open)

The Greens (click to open)

 

Scoring on ParentsNext (click to view)

The parties were scored by Fair Agenda in partnership with SNAICC and National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum.

The parties policies on ParentsNext were scored out of a possible 3:

  • 1 point was available for their policy on abandoning the current ParentsNext policy
  • 1 point was available for their policy to end the application of compliance frameworks
  • 1 point was available for their policy to make the receipt of parenting payments unconditional for parents with children under six years

A fourth question was asked about the parties’ commitments to working in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to co-create voluntary programs. The party responses did not provide enough information to enable us to feel like we could fairly and appropriately score them in this area, so we have not included a score for this question.

 

Q1. Will your party abandon the current ParentsNext program?

ALP

The ALP have indicated that they will not continue with the current ParentsNext approach, and acknowledged that the current ParentsNext program is deeply flawed. They have committed to making changes. These are positive, but there is an absence of detail and no commitment to even make the program voluntary. This approach accepts some of the fundamentals of the current program; and the ALP are yet to commit to abandoning the program entirely.

Score: 0.5/1

 

LNP

The LNP have recently changed some elements of the ParentsNext program, to reduce the compliance burden and improve flexibility, including ensuring parents who are studying can use this to fully satisfy their activity requirements; reducing activity reporting frequency to once per fortnight; and removing activity reporting requirements for flexible activities. While these changes are improvements, they do not address the fundamental problems with the program. The LNP’s survey response indicates they will continue with the heart of the program, and the program will still openly discriminate, apply to mums with kids only 6 months old and devalue care work.

Score: 0 / 1

 

Greens

The Greens have committed to abolishing the current ParentsNext program, and reinvesting the money from ParentsNext into programs that are genuine pre-employment programs and are voluntary. This meets the ask.

Score: 1/1

 

Q2. Will your party end the application of compliance frameworks that threaten parenting payments based on the completion of activities?

ALP

The ALP has committed to making major changes to the ParentsNext program, which are positive; but which appear to still allow for a role for the compliance framework that underpins the program, albeit in a more restricted form.

But the ALP will still use the compliance framework, at least for initial engagement, though thereafter it is not clear. Any use of the compliance framework means leaving parents exposed to payment suspension/penalties, which threatens the wellbeing of children.

Score: 0.25 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP’s response indicates that they will continue to consider the most appropriate settings for the program to ensure it is delivering on its goal to support parents and build their work readiness; but has not yet committed to end the application of compliance frameworks to parenting payments.

Score: 0 / 1 (No commitment)

 

Greens

The Greens have responded that they will end the application of compliance frameworks that threaten parenting payments based on the completion of activities. The have indicated they are strongly opposed to the application of mutual obligations and the targeted compliance framework to income support payments. And will continue to fight for the removal of mutual obligations from our social security system.

Score: 1/1

 

Q3. Will your party make the receipt of parenting payments unconditional for parents with children under six years (i.e. not impose activity requirements as a pre-condition to receiving the parenting payment)?

ALP

While the ALP have committed to changes to the program, they have stopped short of committing to making it completely voluntary. Spokesperson Terri Butler has told media “parents will still be required to participate in the program when they first become eligible for it.”

In their survey response the ALP said: “requiring some participation in programs to improve long-term outcomes is responsible. But Labor will take an evidence-based, case-management approach to making sure that improved programs meet the needs of individual families.”

This approach appears to mean that the existing legislative instrument remains in place, which is what establishes the ‘activity requirement’ on ParentsNext participants. These in turn bring you under the compliance framework that threatens parenting payments. This policy does not meet the ask of making the receipt of parenting payments unconditional.

Score: 0 / 1

 

LNP

The LNP have not yet committed to making the receipt of parenting payments unconditional for parents with children under six years.

Score: 0/1 (No commitment)

 

Greens

Yes. The Greens have indicated they are committed to removing the activity requirements currently attached to Parenting Payment Single.

Score: 1/ 1

 --

For further information about the parties' responses, you can read the full party responses to Fair Agenda's election survey by clicking on the links below:

The Australian Labor Party (click to open)

Coalition (Liberal and National Parties) (click to open)

The Greens (click to open)

 

 

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Authorised by Renee Carr, Fair Agenda, Level 2, 673 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000