News Election 2019 Election 2019: Labor doubles commitment to help those escaping family violence

Election 2019: Labor doubles commitment to help those escaping family violence

Chloe Shorten and Rosie Batty after the budget reply speech. Photo: AAP
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When Bill Shorten delivered his reply to the 2019 budget, family violence campaigner Rosie Batty was sitting in the Parliament next to his wife, Chloe Shorten.

The symbolism was designed to reinforce Labor’s commitment to addressing the reality of domestic violence in Australia.

Five years ago, Ms Batty’s son Luke was killed by his father in front of horrified onlookers at a cricket ground.

His dad had a history of mental illness.

On average, one woman is killed by her partner in Australia every week.

On Anzac Day, police allege the woman exemplifying that statistic was Natalina Angok, 32, who was found dead in the middle of Melbourne’s CBD.

Her partner Christopher Bell is a diagnosed schizophrenic who – a court was told – was released from a facility a week ago. Mr Bell has been charged with her murder.

To tackle the issue, Labor will announce on Friday that it will double the current funding to $600 million to help women leave violent partners, find housing and seek legal assistance.

“The hard truth is that while our willingness to talk about family violence has changed, the number of deaths has not,” Mr Shorten said.

“And to be really blunt – in a crisis, words don’t put a roof over your head.

“Words don’t pay the bills if your partner has closed your accounts and frozen your card.

“If you’re caught up in the frightening, dangerous ordeal of family violence, what you need is practical help, real money, concrete support on the front line.”

Labor is also promising to legislate 10 days’ paid domestic violence leave as part of the National Employment Standards.

Mr Shorten said Labor, if elected, will also toughen domestic violence laws to include economic abuse as a recognised form of family violence.

According to the latest statistics, 72,000 women, 34,000 children and 9000 men are seeking homelessness services due to family/domestic violence every year.

Every year around 2800 women and 560 men seek treatment in hospital after being assaulted by a spouse or partner.

As previously announced, Labor will offer families fleeing domestic violence grants of up to $10,000 to help pay rental bonds and moving costs.

Labor will also establish a new $90 million Preventing Family Violence Legal Service Fund to provide legal advice to families.

To help women and children escaping violence, it will fund a $88 million Safe Housing Fund to deliver transitional and emergency housing.

The new legal funding will include $42.5 million extra for Community Legal Centres to help 115,000 more women.

Labor will also provide $35 million to the states to deliver “evidence-based, age-appropriate respectful relationships education in schools”.

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