Sky News with Laura Jayes
Subjects: National Summit on Women's Safety, Respect@Work legislation, Human Rights Commissioner
LAURA JAYES: Joining me live now is the Assistant Minister for Women, Amanda Stoker. Amanda Stoker, thanks so much for your time. This event, in terms of the panel conversations, was really free from politics; we heard from experts on the ground, victim-survivors, those within the justice system and policing system. And I know you were watching on. But what do you say to women who, you know, are thankful for those experts, they appreciate the words of the last two days but now really want to see action. Can that action be delivered?
AMANDA STOKER: Laura, thank you so much for having me on the program and for your enormous contribution to making the Summit what it was; your MC role, you had a really difficult task in sensitively navigating this really important issue, you did a great job of it. So, thank you for that, I'm sure women are grateful for the way that you have done so. Women do have a right to expect to participate in the community, to live in their home, to be at work in ways that are safe; it's fundamental to the idea of equality of opportunity in this country. If you're not safe, you can't do any of the other things that are needed to reach your potential. There's, I think though, a really fair expectation that there is a product from this. And we have a plan to make that happen, the 'National Plan to End Violence Against Women and their Children' is something that has been in development. This Summit was part of the consultation phase for putting that together, and it reflects what has been a record funding commitment to the subject of women's safety that we've seen under the Morrison Government. What the Summit will do, I think, is make sure that funding, its record sum is applied as wisely, as practically and as meaningfully as is possible to shift those tough barriers that have existed to making meaningful change in this area. And I mean, we saw some really good examples in the discussions over the last couple of days, we saw Indigenous women explaining the way that unless they can get services in their locality, then they are largely without help – and I think that is a fair criticism, it's something that's echoed by women of all ethnicities from rural and regional areas. We heard really useful information about the significance of trauma in men as a driver of violence against women, and I think that's a matter that's sometimes lost in discussions about this and under-invested in, as something that we can do. We learned about the things that do and don't work in effectively offender rehabilitation programs so that people who have a history of being a domestic violence abuser, or someone who is violent to women, have pathways that speak to their experience that they are prepared to participate in; that aren't sanctimonious but that are effective, and all of those things I think, will mean that that record spend is applied more wisely than it has ever been. That's good for taxpayers but most importantly, it's good for those vulnerable women whose right to live safely is something we must deliver on.
LAURA JAYES: You talk about a record spend but many of these groups that spoke yesterday say there's just not enough money. After three years that spending runs out and they have to reapply so they can't plan long-term. Do you accept that? One of the examples as well, you probably heard this, Amanda, was that when it comes to intervention orders for example, sometimes they're just not effective, because if an intervention order is put on a man, they simply don't have anywhere to go, they're homeless, so they've returned to the home where they're not meant to.
AMANDA STOKER: I think that's right and there's a connection between the availability of safe places for women to go, but also affordable places for men who are under orders to remove themselves to. All of those things factor into the effectiveness of the on the ground response. The work we heard cropping up all the time is how complex this problem is and part of the reason it's complex is because it's very difficult to legislate for culture. Politics and government is downstream from culture and it's a cultural issue we're-
LAURA JAYES: Just on that-
AMANDA STOKER: -trying to drive.
LAURA JAYES: Indeed it is, indeed it is. It's really hard to legislate for that but is it a fair criticism that, you know, deeds don't match words when you see the Respect@Work legislation, not all of them were implemented in the last sitting week. Now we have a six week break. Grace Tame says the Prime Minister really undercut his own words by appointing a new Human Rights Commissioner in Lorraine Finlay, what do you have to say to that?
AMANDA STOKER: Look, I don't think it's especially fair. Everyone who operates in this space is doing it sincerely, doing it for the right reasons and trying to get the right outcome. If I can take those criticism in turn, Lorraine Finlay is an outstanding, top shelf human rights lawyer. She has been fighting trafficking, including women and children in Asia, in recent years. She is a highly credible human rights constitution law academic and I have no doubt that as a brilliant, capable woman who, in all of her career up to this date, has been fighting the kind of violence against women that you see in trafficking, she will do an amazing job. We shouldn't let, you know, partisan, political positions here undermine what is a great woman doing great things, who will continue to do that in the human rights role. When it comes to Respect@Work, it's a little bit easy I think to accept the Labor arguments on this. We have, without a shadow of a doubt, implemented the government's commitment to legislate everything that we said we would.
LAURA JAYES: When will that be done? When will that be done? All 55.
AMANDA STOKER: Well, all 55 recommendations isn't a relevant measure because some of those recommendations were directed to the states, so they weren't relevant to the fed. Some of them were directed at the corporate sector, some of them were directed at the education sector, and so we have backed with funding and with executive action, everything that is relevant to us federally. We have implemented in ways that are, we suggest, effective even if they might be a different way to skinning the cat, all of the things that we committed to recommend to, in terms of recommendations. And if there's anything else, we haven't taken it off the table. We are working to get those things done in a way that fits with the response.
LAURA JAYES: Sure.
AMANDA STOKER: So, there's absolutely no basis for criticising the government's commitment here. If you want to get into who's committed to Respect@Work, I think it's worth asking the states when they're going to step up and implement their responses. It's very interesting that, you know, none of our Labor colleagues were prepared to put the feet of their state Labor colleagues to the fire on when they're going to step up and do their bit to ensure women's respect at work.
LAURA JAYES: Okay.
AMANDA STOKER: But the very first of your points was about some of the concerns raised about the continuity of funding, and making sure that all of those services are there on the ground-
LAURA JAYES: Indeed. Indeed. Amanda, I hate to interrupt you. This is such a big topic. I didn't leave enough time for it, maybe we need a whole show. But we are going to have to leave it there because it is a big issue. We will talk about funding but thank you so much for coming to talk on the program today about it. Because it was a Summit, I feel like it wasn't just a talkfest, let's hope it stays that way. Thanks so much.
AMANDA STOKER: I'm confident of that. I know you and I will have opportunities to hold us to account, in making sure that's happening.
LAURA JAYES: We will. Thank you.