Parliamentary inquiry into domestic violence fails Hannah Clarke and her children, senator says | Australia news
A parliamentary inquiry into domestic and family violence, established in the wake of the murders of Hannah Clarke and her children, has been curtailed months ahead of schedule, without seeking any submissions or holding public hearings.
The final report of the committee was labelled an “abject failure” and appalling by the Law Council of Australia, and heavily criticised in an excoriating dissenting report by the crossbench senator Rex Patrick.
Many groups who support women and children in violent situations had hoped the inquiry might make recommendations to address the sort of coercive controlling behaviour that the Brisbane murders of Clarke and her children had brought to the public’s consciousness.
Instead, the Senate standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs tabled a report that noted 13 unanswered questions, which it said should be considered when developing a new national plan to reduce violence against women and children, due in 2022.
Patrick, in a lone dissenting report, said not seeking to answer these questions, hold hearings or seek submissions had rendered the inquiry a failure.
“The committee recognises a number of questions that need answering … and yet, in clear dereliction of duty, it did not seek answers to them,” Patrick wrote.
“The committee failed itself, the Australian public, Hannah Clarke and her three beautiful children, Aaliyah, Laianah, and Trey, and all victims of domestic violence, past, present and future.
“The committee … did not discharge its responsibility to the Senate and, more importantly, the public.
“The committee is reporting three months ahead of time and doing so without seeking a single submission and without holding a single hearing. This is extraordinary, and somewhat unprecedented for a Senate inquiry.”
The Law Council president, Pauline Wright, said the organisation, the peak body for the legal profession, was “appalled”.
“The release of the committee’s majority report inquiry into domestic violence with particular regard to violence against women and their children represents a sad failure of regard for the lives of those Australians lost to domestic violence, and those who will be in danger in the future,” Wright said.
“The report amounts to little more than a literature review, posing a number of obvious and often stated questions. This demonstrates a lack of commitment by decision-makers to address a serious community problem and a significant cause of death in Australia.
“The number of women in Australia who have died at the hands of a current or former partner persists without any significant reduction since 2010.”
“The committee does not believe another lengthy public inquiry into responses to domestic and family violence is required at this time. Such an inquiry would likely divert attention and resources that are currently focussed on front-line services and primary prevention, and may be of limited benefit.
“It is the committee’s view that governments must invest now – before making a new national plan – in the work required to determine if it is simply a matter of waiting for current efforts to come to fruition, or if a new approach is needed.”
• If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au