ABC Brisbane with Steve Austin
Subjects: National Summit on Women's Safety
STEVE AUSTIN: The National Summit on Women's Safety began today and the person largely responsible for this is Queensland Senator Amanda Stoker. Amanda Stoker is the Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, Assistant Minister for Women and Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations. Amanda Stoker, I think you're on your way to the airport now but what events lead to this summit that's taking place?
AMANDA STOKER: Hi Steve. Look, the Morrison Government has had a real interest in making sure that we are doing the right thing by Australian women for a long time and in the course of this government, well before this year, we have brought a record number of taxpayer dollars into the big issue of making sure women are safe. Safe in their home, safe at work, able to lead, able to be achieving financial security, and able to go about their lives, raise their children free of violence. It makes sense though, with that much money on the table, that we take an opportunity to bring together the best evidence there is in the field, from the people who are delivering services and doing their research on the ground, to make sure that precious taxpayer money is going where it needs to. So that's why we're spending some four days in total, covering everything from 'how do we help known perpetrators to learn new behaviours', to 'how do we best deal with helping people understand and avoid coercive control', right through to 'how do we get people through the crisis stage of dealing with a domestic violence incident,' right through to planning out their next five years so that they don't stay in a position of vulnerability but can instead get into a position of housing and financial security that means they can live a really full life and shake off the victimhood that comes from terrible experiences like this.
STEVE AUSTIN: Senator Amanda Stoker is my guest, we're talking about the National Summit on Women's Safety which began today. It continues into next week but I believe that data and information from this will be gathered for the next National Plan. What is that, why does it need changes?
AMANDA STOKER: Well, the national- we're in the full action plan now of the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and their Children, and that is a process by which the state and territory governments, along with the Federal Government get together and try and collaborate to get the biggest [indistinct] for taxpayer dollars in a space where outcomes can sometimes be hard to measure, but that we really need to know we're making a difference in. And the process of putting together a new plan every four years means that that isn't something that just sort of is eased into, or that just rolls on without thinking. It means there's a critical examination of is this the best way that we can help people who are in positions of vulnerability?
Part of the way we try and be constantly innovating to deliver a good result for Australians.
STEVE AUSTIN: My guest is Senator Amanda Stoker. One of the things on the agenda is coercive control laws. Now, Queensland is already heading down the path of bringing in coercive control legislation. What's the Commonwealth position? That legislation is almost like predicting- but it's almost like predicting before a crime actually occurs. What's the Commonwealth's thinking on that?
AMANDA STOKER: Well, you're right to say that it is something that largely falls into the hands of the states and territories, because they are the primary regulator of the criminal law; the Commonwealth Criminal Jurisdiction is particularly niche. But what we can do as a Commonwealth is help to bring together the different approaches that are being investigated in all the different state jurisdictions and territories, help people to make sure that they are, in formulating their response to this, using the best evidence we have from all around the world, because this is an emerging area of law, and we don't actually have a huge evidence base which to work. And we can provide, I guess, prompts and guidance that are about using that evidence to help us understand what kinds of behaviours are really high predictors of really bad outcomes in the domestic space. There's a lot of research that says someone with a really severe coercive control pattern is actually someone more likely to have that relationship end in death rather than something like an assault. So there are real risks associated with this that go beyond what might seem like a small thing, you know, controlling a bank account or something. When taken in a cumulative way, it can be quite predictive of terrible behaviour. But it's important that in doing so, we don't forget the fundamentals of our criminal justice system and the fact that people need to be innocent until proven guilty, and that we don't have a system that is about punishing people for things before they've done them. So it is a really tricky balance, and that's why it's a great opportunity to provide a bit of leadership from the Commonwealth. It's about helping to get the balance right between the important protections for all that exist in our criminal justice system, alongside the need to make sure we are doing the best we possibly can for usually women who find themselves in these enormously dangerous situations.
STEVE AUSTIN: It's 27 minutes past 6. I'm going to have to wrap it up in just a minute. So let me ask you. It's being delivered virtually so does this mean that anyone can see or watch the summit, the National Summit on Women's Safety online?
AMANDA STOKER: On the Monday and the Tuesday, any member of the Australian public can tune in. And if they go to WomensSafetySummit.com.au, there'll be a livestream link from the start of the day on Monday and going through Tuesday, so that if you've got interest in this and you want to participate remotely, you absolutely can. And in fact, I encourage it.
STEVE AUSTIN: I have to leave it there. Senator Amanda Stoker, thanks for your time.
AMANDA STOKER: Good on you, Steve. Thanks for the time.
STEVE AUSTIN: Queensland Senator Amanda Stoker, who is Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, and Assistant Minister for Women, and Assistant Minister for Industrial relations. The web address is WomensSafety.com.au.