Royal Commission into Family Violence

HUTCHINS (Minister for Local Government) — I rise today to speak about the national emergency that our country faces — that is, family violence. I do so as part of a government that is committed to tackling this crisis not just with rhetoric, but with $81.3 million over five years to support the Royal Commission into Family Violence. The commission is investigating the entire system and has encouraged submissions from every sector — local government, health organisations, police, schools, private industry and countless others. Most importantly, it has taken submissions from victims and survivors — those individuals directly affected and suffering from family violence.

Submissions have been able to be made anonymously and have come from all walks of life. Too often there is a misconception about where victims come from and who suffers from family violence. This affects people from every strata of society and every walk of life. This was acknowledged earlier this week, when the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and I announced that Victorian public sector employees will be entitled to family violence leave. As the state’s biggest employer, the Victorian government has a responsibility to do its part and support affected employees, because employment and financial independence often go hand in hand as key drivers of the decision with regard to whether a victim stays or goes. It is something that is not well understood. All too often there is an undercurrent of blaming the victim in conversations around family violence. Anyone with experience of family violence knows that there are many complex reasons why women choose not to leave or to return.