Please don’t play politics with family violence

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

‘Family violence is a serious health and social issue and should not be subject to short-term political deals’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘Last week’s announcement by Prime Minister Morrison that an inquiry into the family law system would be established—to be led by Kevin Andrews and Pauline Hanson—raises significant concerns as to whether this inquiry will examine these issues with due regard for objective and unbiased evidence.

‘In particular, Ms Hanson’s public statements on family violence and family law disputes are demonstrably biased, being based on anecdote and personal experience rather than taking into account the full range and weight of evidence—or at least being open to other perspectives.

‘Pre-judging outcomes in this way provides little confidence that the inquiry will treat these matters with the serious attention they deserve.

‘One must also question whether reinventing the wheel in these areas is a good use of public resources.

‘Successive inquiries into family law and family violence, including the March 2019 report of the Australian Law Reform Commission into the family law system, have made recommendations for law reform which to date have been ignored by the Government.

‘Further, less than two months ago the Council of Australian Governments agreed on the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010–2022.

‘And “Health Impacts of Violence against Women” is one of five Priority Areas in the Department of Health’s National Women’s Health Strategy 2020–2030, published last year. The strategy contains analysis, priorities, actions, and suggestions for research on this very topic.

‘Given this wealth of government-funded work already undertaken, it is unclear what the purpose of this latest inquiry is, other than a short-term political deal with One Nation.

‘On average one woman a week in Australia dies as the result of physical violence by a partner or former partner.

‘And many families experience substantial mental as well as physical trauma, sometimes over extended periods, sometimes for life, as relationships break down.

‘It is simply unacceptable that our Government should play political games on these matters while ignoring what experts have been saying in many previous enquiries.

‘Family violence is a serious health and social issue, and the AHHA calls on the Government to address it with the gravity it deserves.’

More information on AHHA is available at ahha.asn.au

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA, 0403 282 501