WA should set up a commission into domestic violence according to angelhands founder Ann O’Neill.
Ms O’Neill, who has been named an ambassador of the national Our Watch Program to end domestic violence against women and children this month, said a commission would ensure continuity around the complex issue.
While New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria have a minister for prevention of domestic violence, Dr O’Neill said a commission would be a better option to ensure the issue was kept bipartisan to ensure ‘plans and objectives ran longer than an election cycle’.
“It is a bit like defence, we don’t make that subject to an election term,” she said.
“I have a way of looking at it as if it were domestic security, it should be treated with the same attitude as national and international security.
“If we look at it in those terms and think about it in that way we have that same ongoing commitment.”
Dr O’Neill, whose estranged husband shot and killed her two children, shot her and then turned the gun on himself in 1994, said there was a more covert focus on domestic violence these days.
“In the mid to late 1990s we had some terrible incidences of domestic violence and I think what we are seeing is a new pair of glasses, we’re looking at it again with new knowledge and understanding.”
Member for Armadale Tony Buti and Minister for Local Government and Community Services Tony Simpson have teamed up to cycle from Perth to Margaret River in the Ride Against Domestic Violence on May 29.
They also jointly launched Friends of angelhands at Parliament House this month to raise awareness of the impact trauma and violence are having on the community.
Mr Buti said the idea of a commission had merit but he would prefer to see WA appoint a minister for domestic violence.
He said statistics revealed domestic violence was a crisis that cost the nation $13.6 billion a year and saw a 76.9 per cent increase in reportable family and domestic violence assaults between 2009-10 and 2013-14.
“Family and domestic violence needs a dedicated minister to co-ordinate a whole of government approach as it touches so many portfolios,” he said.
“Thus needs a co-ordinated approach to prevent passing the buck, duplication and some issues falling between the gaps.”
The state Labor Party recently released a Criminal Laws (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill to break the cycle of domestic violence.
Mr Simpson said domestic violence fell into the child protection portfolio and did not need a dedicated minister.
“In WA we have done some fantastic work, we are doing a lot of work but we still have a long way to go.”
WA is also one of only three states to not join Our Watch, which has been running since 2013 and includes Rosie Batty as an ambassador and family violence activist.
However WA-based domestic violence organisations will be briefed on Our Watch’s national framework.
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Visit angelhands.org.au or call 9272 2242.