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The Commonwealth Government, having nominated domestic violence as an issue of national importance, is working with other governments and with business and the community to help prevent violence against women in all its forms.
The Prime Minister's leadership through the Government's landmark 1996 National Firearms Agreement has permanently removed 643,000 firearms from the Australian community. The levels of firearm related crimes and of firearm suicide have fallen. The Agreement denies access to firearms to individuals subject to a Domestic Violence Order or an Apprehended Violence Order.
Also in 1996, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Women's Safety Survey provided the first comprehensive national data on all forms of violence against women.
In 1997, the Prime Minister brought together the heads of all State and Territory governments to work together to prevent domestic violence across Australia. This historic event was the first time that heads of Australian governments had joined to speak out against domestic violence.
The Commonwealth Government has committed $50 million to Partnerships Against Domestic Violence to test innovative preventative measures and best practice to prevent and address domestic violence.
Partnerships is additional to the Commonwealth's $157 million funding each year for the Supported Accommodation Assistance Programme, a joint Commonwealth/State programme to provide transitional support and accommodation to homeless people and those at risk of homelessness, many of whom are women escaping domestic violence.
New emergency crisis payments from Centrelink are also helping women fleeing domestic violence to meet the costs of establishing a new and safer home.
Since the inception of Partnerships, the Commonwealth has:
Current major initiatives for Partnerships include addressing the impact on children of domestic violence; strengthening programmes to ensure perpetrators of domestic violence put an end to the violence; and community education for mainstream, indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
The National Indigenous Family Violence Grants Programme is providing $6 million over four years to help local indigenous communities take action to reduce family violence. Grant recipients will also be assisted by a mentoring team which will provide advice on project management, self-documentation and self-evaluation.
A new national indigenous family violence community awareness campaign was launched in April 2001. Called `Walking into Doors', it features indigenous musicians Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter who talk about the experience of violence in their lives and those of indigenous families and perform a range of songs. A series of 10 community forums is being held and are designed so that community members can interact with service providers and can start discussions about addressing violence in their community.
The Commonwealth is also leading work with State and Territory governments, through the Ministerial Council on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (MCATSIA), to address indigenous family violence.
The Government has been working on a number of other strategies aimed at prevention of violence in the lives of women. This has been achieved through:
Building on its considerable record in domestic violence and crime prevention initiatives, in the 2001-02 Budget the Government will provide funding of $16.5 million over four years to facilitate a national approach to combat sexual assault against women.
The measure, to be administered through the Office of the Status of Women, will establish partnerships with other governments, key organisations and service providers to develop, test and implement strategies that address the increasing incidence of sexual assault in the community. This will include campaigns to promote community awareness, ensuring the sharing of approaches to combat sexual assault and promote `best practice' across jurisdiction and agencies, and funding of time limited projects.