MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (18:02:32) — I rise to briefly speak on the Prevention of Family Violence Bill 2018. As previous speakers have said, this is a new principle-based approach to family violence and, most importantly, to the prevention of family violence. We know that inequality is one of the causes of family violence. We know that a lack of respect is one of the causes not only of family violence but of violence in our community, so I am very pleased to support this bill.
I am very pleased that this bill and the establishment of Respect Victoria is entirely about prevention and research; it is basically about trying to prevent. As we quite often talk about, it is about putting the fence at the top of the cliff rather than paying for the ambulances at the bottom, which is really how we have been dealing with family violence for decades, when we have even accepted it. Family violence not only costs us personally through the 160 000 Victorians who are victims of family violence, but it costs us financially as well. There is $5.6 billion being spent just on police, on legal processes and on court systems. And then you can look at the cost — and I am not talking about the emotional cost but the financial cost — that is experienced by the victim. That is calculated by KPMG to be sitting at around $2.6 billion.
When I was reading this bill I could not help thinking about Aretha Franklin and remembering that one of the songs that we all know her for is Respect. While I would not want to quote at great length the words of that song as part of my contribution because I think some of it is entirely inappropriate, some parts of it or not. At the beginning she sings, ‘All I’m asking for is a little bit of respect; when I get home, a bit of respect’. That really hits the nail on the head with family violence. This is about respect in our homes. This is about respect for our families. This is about respect.
I heard Mr Finn and Mr Morris going on about the men who are being ‘tarred’ by this and the fact that this is just about women, it is not. It is actually about our Aboriginal communities, which have far greater levels of violence in them. This is about preventing violence in our Aboriginal communities, in our multicultural communities, in our LGBTI communities and against our elderly, both male and female — against all people. It is not targeted at women. It is targeted at preventing violence, full stop.
I was very fortunate to meet the new CEO of Respect Victoria, Tracey Gaudry, the other week. I was incredibly impressed with her passion and with the fact that we are finally going to have some measures. We are finally going to have some understanding of what works in preventing violence and understanding the complexities of family violence and family violence in our community.
As we know, what you cannot measure, you cannot manage. The establishment of Respect Victoria will enable us to put in some performance measures to help us to understand how we can deal with this issue — how we can finally rid ourselves of family violence that, as we know, kills one to two people every week. We find it is much easier to talk about Eurydice Dixon and the random violence in the street than it is to talk about the violence that is taking place in our own homes. Whether that is against grandparents or whether that is against girlfriends or boyfriends, it is about trying to prevent that violence. I certainly feel that one of the most important things is being able to measure it and being able to pull together what everyone is doing.
I know that we are seeing some wonderful projects in all of our communities. I lament the loss of some of those wonderful pilot projects. There was one in my region run by Women’s Health in the North, and it was around talking to young men. These were young men who were playing soccer at the age of 12 — boys really. They were boys from Syrian communities and other multicultural backgrounds. They were going home and talking about what they had learned at their soccer training and about the information that they had got. It was successful. The understanding of respect and the information that they could take back to their families was really remarkable. It was so sad that even though the assessment of that project was that it was terribly valuable and it was very successful, it was not re-funded. It did not get ongoing funding. I hope that Respect Victoria enables us to recognise those wonderful, targeted community programs that work, and that we can build on those and take those into the future.
Mr Morris said that family violence is postcode blind. I have to say that in some cases it is not. We know that our most disadvantaged are actually the most likely to be affected by family violence. I know that in Northern Metropolitan Region it is in the poorer postcodes — and the Brotherhood of St Laurence will concur with this — where we see higher levels of violence. In our Aboriginal communities we see higher levels of violence. We do need to address this. I am not saying that family violence does not happen across the board. Yes, it does. But there is no doubt that where there are greater levels of inequality, there are greater levels of family violence. Where there is less respect — and some of that might even just be self-respect — there are greater levels of family violence.
I think this is a very good start. I think we have a long way to go, but I think this starts us on a path. I look forward to the process and seeing what Respect Victoria does. We have already seen some of the great community service advertising that they have been bringing out, and I know that that is getting conversations going around our communities and certainly among the people that I have met with. I support Ms Crozier’s call for some financial reporting. I look forward to the reporting. I look forward to learning more about Respect Victoria.
I would also just like to note that I was a little bit concerned about Mr Finn being somewhat disparaging about this organisation, saying, ‘Oh, maybe it’s just people with expert degrees spouting what they’ve learned at Monash in their arts or sociology degree or whatever’. But let us just look at this. Tracey Gaudry is an incredibly competent, experienced woman heading this up, with people like Rod Jackson, who has been heading up Victorian Aboriginal health and has headed up national organisations and been a member of Aboriginal economic boards and regional partnerships. He has been sitting on a whole range of organisations. Emily Maguire, Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Steve Walsh — all of these people are incredibly experienced and have decades of experience working in the law, working in the community, working in health and working in family violence areas specifically, as do Julia Mason, Melanie Eagle and Andi Diamond, and I hope I have not missed anyone. These are formidable leaders in our community, and I think they will provide great stewardship for this organisation. I commend this bill, I support this bill, I support Respect Victoria and I am very much look forward to working with them in the future.