Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — I would like to rise to briefly speak about the Family Violence Protection Amendment Bill 2017. As many of the other speakers have quite rightly pointed out, the statistics regarding family violence are just simply staggering. Noting the increase in reports of family violence I hope is a reason that Ms Fitzherbert touched upon the fact that the stigma around family violence is finally coming off our shoulders. We can speak more openly about family violence. We understand that we are not alone — women, predominantly, are not alone — in family violence. The light that the royal commission was able to shine on family violence has made a real difference, as has the work that so many community organisations around this state have done to expose family violence, to inform the community about family violence, to educate the community that it is not part of a normal family life, that it is not okay. This bill yet again helps us to address this, and I am very pleased to be supporting this bill. I am very pleased that we are moving down this path of adopting the royal commission’s recommendations in a very quick and punctual way.
The Lookout, a forum for Victorian family violence workers and other professionals, notes there were 76 529 family violence incidents reported by Victoria Police for the year ending March 2016. As I was saying, that is a rise of 10 per cent on previous years, and again those were only the cases where the police attended.
Family violence sadly is still largely hidden, but I hope that is changing, and I hope this bill enables us to speak up about family violence. It enables us to help those victims to not feel shame or feel that they have nowhere to turn or to worry about that stigma or to worry when people say, ‘Why didn’t you just leave? Why didn’t you just get out of there?’. These are questions that quite often victims of family violence are faced with, and this bill goes a long way to helping them in those areas, to streamlining the court process, to streamlining all of the processes for families escaping violence in Victoria. I think this legislation will enable some of the specialist family courts and the Koori Court to better respond to the specific needs of family violence victims, which is certainly a positive point. Of the 2337 applicants who accessed a support worker from the specialist family courts in the year 2015, I am sad to say that 44 per cent of them lived in northern and western metropolitan regions.
This is also where we need to address this, because family violence is obviously found in far more significant proportions in our most disadvantaged areas. The Dropping Off the Edge 2015 report found that complex and entrenched disadvantage continues to be experienced in specific locations across the state, with the northern and western metropolitan areas highlighted as some of the most disadvantaged.
This has also been highlighted in the current juvenile justice inquiry. It has found that most of the children in juvenile justice have come from just six postcodes in Victoria. It has been shown that this disadvantage is actually pocketed into geographical areas, which leads to family violence. Looking at these inquiries you realise that often family violence is at the core of the reason these children are in juvenile justice.
With the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Pilot Medically Supervised Injecting Centre) Bill 2017, which I put up some weeks ago and is now the subject of a committee inquiry, we have found that so many people overdosing in North Richmond have backgrounds of family violence and neglect. When you look at the parliamentary drug law reform inquiry and at the number of people accessing drug treatment services, family violence, neglect and family disruption come up again as historical precursors to the reasons these people are seeking access to treatment, have come into our juvenile justice or, sadly, are part of the incredibly increasing overdose statistics in Victoria. So addressing family violence goes a long way to addressing the issues of drug abuse and addressing the issues of juvenile justice. This is one of the cores in this area.
This bill makes a significant number of changes, and that people escaping family violence are still experiencing. I am one of the very fortunate ones who has not experienced family violence, but many of my constituents certainly have. I am pleased to be here to support this bill, which is taking significant steps in getting rid of family violence in our society. I welcome them. Again, as many have said, we obviously need to do more. We need to create that transparency. We need to get rid of the stigma
Motion agreed to.
Read second time.