Important steps to bolster family and domestic violence response

  • New taskforce to bolster State’s efforts to address family and domestic violence
  • Government to establish lived experience advisory group
  • Firearms reforms to remove guns from the hands of perpetrators
  • Cook Government to progress important initiatives to support victim-survivors and address family and domestic violence

The Cook Government has announced a special taskforce to help guide the next phase of the State’s efforts to address family and domestic violence (FDV), building on the Government’s ongoing work and more than $200 million of investment.

The taskforce was a key request from the recent family and domestic violence forum, and will consider and advise Government on other priorities put forward at the forum. This is in addition to examining broader system reform to improve victim-survivor safety and perpetrator accountability.

The taskforce will be co-chaired by Professor Colleen Hayward AM – a senior Noongar woman and former ambassador for the Commissioner for Children and Young People – and Department of Premier and Cabinet Director General Emily Roper.

The taskforce will be time-limited, initially for six months, to focus on delivering results.

The Cook Government has also committed to establishing a lived experience advisory group, to provide an ongoing voice for those with lived experience to help shape policies relating to family and domestic violence.

The taskforce will start work on establishing this important group, which was another key request from the family and domestic violence forum.

In addition to these measures, the Cook Government has today announced it will take guns out of the hands of family and domestic violence perpetrators as part of its historic rewrite of the Firearms Act, which is currently underway.

Proposed changes to the Firearms Act will include Mandatory Disqualifying Offences, which prohibit serious violent offenders, like family and domestic violence perpetrators, from holding or retaining a firearm licence, improving safety for victim-survivors and the public more broadly.

This goes further than changes made in 2020, which prevented declared serial family violence offenders from owning firearms.

Mandatory Disqualifying Offence laws will be applied retrospectively – meaning firearm licence holders who have previously been convicted of a serious offence, will have a disqualifying period imposed on them and their firearms licence could be revoked.

Since 2017, the State Government has invested more than $200 million to address family and domestic violence.

Important measures have included:

  • The first dedicated Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Ministerial portfolio;
  • Significant legal reforms, including automatic recognition of Violence Restraining Orders from other States, a new stand-alone offence for non-fatal strangulation, enabling people with multiple FDV offences to be declared ‘serial family violence offenders’ and tenancy reforms to support victim-survivors;
  • Opening two new women’s refuges in Peel and Kwinana;
  • Opening the State’s first one-stop hubs in Mirrabooka and Kalgoorlie, with work on hubs in Armadale and Broome underway;
  • Creating two new men’s perpetrator programs in Maylands and Port Hedland;
  • Establishing the RSPCA pets in crisis program for people who leave their homes because of FDV;
  • Subsidising driving lessons to support economic independence of victim-survivors;
  • Delivering two rapid re-housing pilots for women and children exiting refuges;
  • Delivering a new specialist FDV counselling program for children and young people;
  • Funding first responder training in family and domestic violence;
  • Improved ante-natal screening for family and domestic violence; and
  • Trialling a forensic FDV service to improve chances of prosecuting perpetrators.

This month, interim support services for victim-survivors in Perth’s south-eastern suburbs have started in preparation for the full delivery of the Armadale One Stop Hub – a $14.7 million election commitment.

The interim service, known as the South East FDV Healing Service, will provide a range of holistic support services including group and one-to-one counselling, legal information sessions and men’s outreach services.

In addition, the Hub’s interim service will create referral pathways from local agencies, including WA Police, so people experiencing family and domestic violence can be connected with specialist support.

Hope Community Services, Yorgum Healing Services Aboriginal Corporation are delivering the Hub service.

This week the Cook Government has allocated funding enabling the expansion of the Keeping Women Safe in their Home Programto new locations in the Kimberley and Great Southern regions. This initiative is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

The program is designed to undertake risk assessments, safety planning and security upgrades for people experiencing family and domestic violence so that they can safely stay in their own homes.

Anglicare WA will implement the program in Katanning and the surrounding towns of Cranbrook, Tambellup, Kojonup, Dumbleyung, Gnowangerup, and Jerramungup. The Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation will deliver the program in Fitzroy Crossing and surrounding communities.

The State Government has also today released a joint Statement of Intent with the non-Government school sector on a shared approach to respectful relationships and consent education in schools across the State.

The Statement of Intent, signed off by the WA Department of Education, the Association of Independent Schools Western Australia, and Catholic Education Western Australia, outlines a commitment between Government and non-Government schools to equip young people with the skills they need to develop healthy relationships.

The State Government introduced the Respectful Relationships Teaching Support Program in 2017 and has been expanding the program across public schools since 2021.

As stated by Premier Roger Cook:

“I’m proud that our Government has delivered important programs, investment and reforms over the past six years to address the scourge of family and domestic violence.

“But we know there is always more to do to support victim-survivors and hold perpetrators to account.

“The family and domestic violence summit was an important opportunity for those with lived experience to have their voices heard, and to put forward their priorities for Government.

“We listened, and we’re acting. This taskforce will help to guide the next steps in addressing family and domestic violence, while the lived experience group will ensure the voices of victim-survivors, and the families of those we’ve lost, will always be front-and-centre in policy-making.”

As stated by Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Sabine Winton:

“I am pleased to announce the taskforce and advisory group in direct response to the top two priorities put forward at the family and domestic violence summit.

“One of the first actions the task force will undertake is establishing a Lived Experience Advisory Group, placing the experience and voices of victim survivors at the centre of policy and service design.

“We will continue to work proactively with the sector to elevate access to services and responses aligned to Path to Safety: Western Australia’s strategy to reduce family and domestic violence 2020-2030 and the Aboriginal Family Safety Strategy 2022-2032 released late last year.

“I look forward to working with the taskforce co-chairs to finalise the make-up of the taskforce so their important work can get underway this month.”

As stated by Police Minister Paul Papalia:

“Mandatory disqualifying offences will disarm people, like serious domestic violence offenders, who have shown they are not fit to have a firearms licence.

“The new laws will be applied retrospectively, meaning when they come into effect, they will have an immediate impact.

“The Cook Labor Government continues to look for ways to enhance WA Police Force powers to help officers crackdown on cowardly domestic violence offenders.”

/Public Release. View in full here.