Australia Just Launched A $100 Million Initiative To Tackle Domestic Violence

malcolm-turnbull-domestic-violence-initiative

Above is a picture of new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has risen to the seat of Prime Minister after a recent leadership spill which saw him take over the role from disgraced former PM Tony Abbott, someone who had become rather unpopular with Australians over the past few years for a number of issues.

Yes, technically Prime Minister Turnbull is still from the same conservative party, but it seems right out of the gate he already intends to make a positive difference in the lives of Australians. Of course, it is still early days and there are a number of other issues that are raising questions among citizens, but right out of the gate he has come out swinging with an initiative that is winning the praises of many across the country.

It is an initiative that allowed us to give him the nickname “the $100 million dollar man” and we think it is quite fitting. This money will go toward a comprehensive attack aimed at dismantling domestic violence across homes in Australia. The program capitalizes on some of the initiatives already put in place by the previous Prime Minister, and comes after a recent focus on the issue in the Australian media.

“It has been overlooked, to some extent ignored, for far too long. We must have zero tolerance for it. Real men don’t hit women. We have got to be very determined to eradicate it,” said the Prime Minister in a statement to the media upon announcing the measure, joined by law enforcement, members of his cabinet, and anti-domestic violence advocate Rosie Batty who was awarded Australian Of The Year in January for her work raising awareness after her son was horrifically murdered by her husband in a fit of rage.

The statistics about domestic violence in the country have become a heavily-discussed talking point recently, and have culminated in a number of awareness campaigns. The Age newspaper reports 63 deaths due to domestic violence have been cited in 2015 alone, and many more (mostly) women suffer physical and mental pain and fear. Statistics show that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experience violence at the hands of a partner. Research also shows that with better community support and awareness, more people will be encouraged to report cases of domestic violence.

In addition to these figures, studies show Indigenous women are 34 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to end up in hospital due to domestic violence. When women become victims of abuse, they are more likely to stay away from work, impacting them and their families financially.

domestic-violence-Australia

Around half of men and a quarter of women have never told anyone about a violent incident, and that needs to change. In a bid to help bring down the rates of violence, and help those suffering in silence to speak out, here is where the Australian Government plans to allocate the $100 million:

$41.5 million will go toward budgetary domestic violence reduction programs.

$13.5 million will go toward training police officers, social workers and front line workers over a period of 3 years to help them spot signs of domestic violence and further help prevent it.

$1.6m will go towards training hospital staff on assisting survivors, and $500,000 on specialized training for remote and rural doctors.

$13.4 million will go toward the creation of domestic violence units within existing legal aid centers, which would place lawyers, social workers and cultural liaisons services like translators in one place.

$5 million will go towards providing more information on the Safer Schools website on respectful relationships, a program that aims to stamp out attitudes that could lead to violence from a young age.

$30 million will be allocated toward ad campaigns aimed at changing attitudes around sexual and domestic violence.

This is an issue that has gotten bi-partisan support, with opposition leader Bill Shorten calling for a national summit dedicated to tackling domestic violence which the Guardian reports has killed an average of 7 women a month in 2015, at least those are the numbers reported.

prevent-domestic-violence

The initiative will be monitored and overseen by the Council of Australian Governments advisory group on domestic violence.

“We all have a role to play in ending this vile epidemic, and we are all responsible for affecting change: in our families, schools, sport teams, workplace, and communities. We know that the attitudes that allow violence against women are based on disrespect and we must encourage respectful relationships through education to effect cultural change,” said newly-appointed minister for women Michaelia Cash.

Aside from the obvious reasons for wanting to stop this violent crime, there are additional economic benefits to preventing domestic violence.

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, a director at the Copenhagen Consensus Center, writes about a recent first-of-its-kind study undertaken by the institution, showing the total costs of violence worldwide. They found that gender-based violence, which affects 1 in 3 women globally, has a financial impact on society.

Professors Anke Hoeffler, of Oxford University, and James Fearon, of Stanford University who conducted the study, found that violence against women costs the world $6.3 trillion every year – or 5.2 per cent of global GDP. This, they find, is a much greater toll than homicide, terrorism, or even civil war.

rosie-batty

For Australia specifically, violence against women is estimated to be a staggering 2.8 per cent of GDP – equivalent to throwing away $41.1 billion annually. They say there is a cycle of abuse that unfortunately gets continued time and time again – girls who witness abuse are more likely to get into abusive relationships in the future, and boys who witness abuse are more likely to become abusers.

In his announcement to the press, Prime Minister Turnbull cited Australian research that shows 1 in 4 young men say it is acceptable to “drunkenly” slap a woman, adding to his point about needing to change attitudes about violence in order to prevent cycles of abuse to continue.

Putting down to economics, if this new $100 million initiative reduced domestic violence in Australia by even 1%, the benefits would still outweigh the costs 4 to 1. In other words, no matter which angle you tackle it from, ending domestic violence and raising awareness about prevention is good for the economy.

So far some of the major campaigns rolled out through the media have gotten mixed reactions. This one created by activist organization The Line focused on the abuser called ”You Can’t Undo Violence” had critics saying there was far too much emphasis on the feelings of a perpetrator after an attack where it should be on the victim.

However this campaign lead by Queensland sports stars, politicians and media personalities seemed to strike a high note, with audiences saying it was a bold and well-overdue move. The QLD State government is ensuring they are doing their part in exposing the problem and taking action to prevent more women and men becoming statistics on a national register or a study.

courier-mail-domestic-violence-campaign
courier-mail-domestic-violence-campaign

There is not one solution to domestic violence, because even though there are common factors and triggers, each person’s situation has its own complexities which means there has to be comprehensive action and prevention. Media campaigns can only go so far in changing the deep-seated attitudes about women and violence, and law enforcement, medical professionals and social workers cannot adequately help victims and families unless there is a structure in place allowing them to spot the signs and make a change.

We’re glad there is finally some research on how domestic violence affects a nation financially, as it is not something to ignore. At the very least, if people are not going to care about a situation that doesn’t affect them directly, knowing that it could affect the way money is spent surely should be moral imperative enough.

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg believes sharing information about the financial impact of domestic violence is just as vital as all other forms of awareness.

“In too many cultures, and for far too long, we have accepted the toll of violence, especially on women. The moral case for action is overwhelming. But economic research can help us to better understand the problem and the best solutions. And it speaks volumes that there have been so few economic analyses of its impact until recently: this is a problem that has not been taken seriously. What the new economic evidence shows is that the Australian government’s decision to step up the fight against domestic violence is likely to be one that will pay dividends to society,” he said.

Thank you Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for being a $100 million man committed to fighting this pervasive social evil head on.

malcolm-turnbull-domestic-violence-initiative

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.