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Prevention of Family Violence – Family Violence and Pet Abuse

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 June 2022

Tags: Family Violence, Animal Welfare

Dr WOODRUFF - That is definitely great news. Minister, the RSPCA made a submission to the Family Violence Reforms Bill 2021 process and they pointed out 70 per cent of women fleeing domestic violence also report pet abuse. They point to this being a reason that women victim/survivors often delay leaving or do not leave because they are afraid that the animal they love and that provides them support will either be neglected, not fed or worse killed or harmed.

Those fears are very real. Can you please tell me, I do not see you have adopted the recommendations they have made in that bill, but maybe you can inform me?

Mrs PETRUSMA - I can read out:

The RSPCA welcomes the announcement by Jacquie Petrusma, Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence that the state Government will provide funding of $100 000 over two years to expanding operations of our Safe Beds program.

Ms O'BYRNE - They can up to $6000 as part of their,

Mrs PETRUSMA - No, this is separate. We have announced we will fund the Safe Beds program $100 000 over two years, because we know as a fact that this program assists people escaping abusive relationships by caring for their companion animals, while they recover and reestablish their lives and their homes. I want to applaud the great work the RSPCA have done to care for pets of people experiencing temporary homelessness due to the tightening housing situation and the difficulty of finding rental properties, which they will accept their furry friends.

Yes, we are funding, as part of our action plan, $100 000 over two years, but this program will not just be for cats and dogs, it is also for rabbits, horses, sheep, llamas -

Ms O'BYRNE - Snakes!

Mrs PETRUSMA - It is for whatever animal is needed. Also, as Ms O'Byrne pointed out, we also have our flexible support program in addition to this. Since this program launched in 2021, we have provided up to $6000 for victim/survivors of family violence for practical supports to enhance the safety and wellbeing when leaving an abusive relationship.

Our flexible support program has already been used to cover pet expenses, such as kennel costs when a victim/survivor is in emergency housing. It also provided for kennel costs for travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania for a victim/survivor who is relocating interstate. We are continuing that program, separately to this program and for flexible support program next year, we will be providing $330 000 to continue that alongside the program we are running with the RSPCA. Jan was very delighted and she cried tears of joy when we told her.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, that is great. To clarify that there is no impediment to a woman accessing a family violence shelter because they have a pet, or would that $6000 be used to separately locate the pet?

Mrs PETRUSMA - They can go through the Safe Beds program through the RSPCA or otherwise they can access a flexible support package through us and the $6000 is if they wanted to do some other arrangement which they saw was better for them, but there is a couple of different options that are now available for people.

Dr WOODRUFF - There were other recommendations the RSPCA made in relation to the Family Violence Bill, I do not see they have been included in the bill.

Mrs PETRUSMA - That would be something you would have to ask the Attorney-General on. She does the legislation side, so I am not sure where that is at. What was it that they actually asked to go in the bill?

Dr WOODRUFF - That they wanted a definition of family violence offense that would explicitly include causing or threatening harm to animals.

Mrs PETRUSMA - At the moment, family violence in Tasmania does include threats and intimidation, in addition to damage caused directly or indirectly to any property, therefore harm or threats to harm pets in a family violence incident is classed as family violence by police already.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is included as an object in that sense.

Mrs PETRUSMA - When assessing risk in family violence matters, police take into consideration threats and harm against pets, it is part of what is considered.