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Clarity on Cutbacks

14 July 2008

Order of Business

Senator Ivana Bacik: I echo the words of other Senators in calling for clarity on the cutbacks proposed by the Government. It is adding insult to injury to suggest serious cutbacks will be made while the House will be in recess for the summer and not tell Members the exact nature of those cutbacks.

In that context, will the Leader consider a debate on violence against women and children early in the next session. One criminal justice case that received national attention in recent weeks, of which we are all very aware, concerned issues within family relationships. The high profile of the case should not detract from the fact that the majority of cases of domestic violence or violence in intimate or personal relationships are committed against women and children.

Some worthy progress has been made and the Government has established for the first time an agency, Cosc, whose function is to collect national data on domestic violence or violence in intimate relationships. I fear that, in this climate of cutbacks, there will be cutbacks in funding of this agency. Other Senators have referred to the review of agencies that is to be undertaken by the Government. In this regard, I am very concerned that there will be no cutbacks in this area. For far too long, groups such as Women's Aid and shelters for victims have been starved of resources. Will the Leader consider a debate on violence against women and children, or violence in intimate relationships, early in the next term? The main focus on the debate should be on what can be done about such violence and how we can best ensure resources are well directed in this area. I hope Cosc will survive the cutbacks we expect over the summer.