Investment to end violence, but where's the investment?
After the Federal Election results that some hopefully speculated indicated a new era of voter and community democracy, the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children was delayed. Concerns had been raised about the previous government’s approach. Previous considerable delays of a major report intended to inform the National plan was described by some as questionable and concerning. Today, the current Commonwealth Government, and State and Territory Governments, announced a commitment to a joint strategy and launched the National Plan to to end violence against women and children.
The full National Plan document can be found here with the option to listen or read the PDF.
However, it remains to be seen whether the valuable insights made available by many scholars, activists, and community groups has been heard. One question that can only be answered in time is whether inclusive and representative data and the stories and testimonies contributed by victim/survivors and others with lived experience of being affected by domestic and family violence will be centred as legislators, policymakers, and peak bodies develop budgets, programs, and reforms.
While the consultation period for the new National Plan was ostensibly re-opened shortly after the new Federal Government was sworn in, the time periods and invitations may not have enabled widespread and diverse contributions. While advocates like Grace Tame have been able to stand firm and find platforms to raise their voices and share their stories, various groups raise concerns and criticism about the National Plan development and the discourse about how best to address and eradicate domestic and family violence. In particular, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s Delegate Statement arose in response to what some argue is the ongoing silencing, exclusion or erasure of First Nations women, children, and communities and the unique impacts of colonisation, racialisation, and intergenerational trauma faced by First Peoples. Professor Chelsea Watego’s racial discrimination case was rejected only one week before the National Plan was revealed. “Black stories are beautiful things and can be found everywhere – except on bookshelves”, and as Dr Watego articulates in “Another Day in the Colony”, there are consequences when stories and voices are excluded or unheard as we wait to see what will come of the next ten years of State-sponsored action: ” With concerning statements by those in powerful positions such as the Supreme Court Justice, it seems there are ongoing concerning narratives that continue to shape the thinking, conversations, and possibilities when we envision a future with no more domestic, family, sexual, partner, and other forms of relational violence.
Professor Bronwyn Carlson writes on “the lack of outrage regarding violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, which we argue has been normalised and rendered invisible” amid ongoing calls for a distinct National Plan to address the the violence perpetrated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. As Dr Watego and other Indigenous writers, scholars, and journalists face particular backlash as they attempt to advocate and report on these and other issues, Senator Lidia Thorpe also invites submissions into the Senate Inquiry into Missing and Murdered First Nations Women and Children which is closing soon (11 November).