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Prevention of Family Violence – Impacts on Young People

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 June 2022

Tags: Family Violence, Children and Young People

Dr WOODRUFF - You and I both attended a meeting with Dr Carmel Hobbs for the Social Action Research Centre (SARC) at Anglicare. She is a researcher and she has done some extremely important and inaugural research for Tasmania about intimate partner abuse in children under 18. Her early findings were incredibly harrowing.

She did some in-depth surveys with 17 young people and she found a whole gamut of some of the most horrific types of family violence that are occurring for a large number of those young woman and also men, including kidnapping, hostage taking, the most brutal forms of violence and emotional abuse. It's a really desperate situation and what she's identified is a cohort living particularly in regional areas - that was where her work was focused - but in urban areas as well, who are completely unable to access the sorts of services that people escaping family violence above 18 can have: a car licence, Centrelink support, easy access to a phone, a bank account and all of those things. I know you heard that story and I know you were moved like I was. She said her emerging recommendations would be available and the final report in August-September, post-Budget. I wonder whether you have had further correspondence with Dr Hobbs, thought about the report and whether there is anything in the Budget that you have in mind to specifically deal with those young people.

Mrs PETRUSMA - Yes. We have maintained a continuing conversation with Carmel Hobbs and she has told us that she will share her early results with us. In fact, Ms Hurworth went with her this week. One of the major programs that she wanted to ensure was going to continue was the Step Up program that is currently being funded. There will $1.2 million for us to extend Step Up statewide, as part of our next action plan. It is one of her major recommendations that she discussed with us on the day, to have that program extended. That has targeted young people aged 12-17 years who have been violent towards family members or who have been violent to their intimate partner. She acknowledged that was a big gap and we are going to be making it a statewide program. On her other ones, we have always said that our next action plan, like this one, is a living plan.

With the commission of inquiry, for example, we will not have what its recommendations are until after this plan is delivered. That is why, if the commission of inquiry comes out with new recommendations that need to be added in, we will be adding in those. We are going to have core elements, but it is living plan. If Carmel's final recommendations are going to come out too late for when we first launch the plan, we can always consider those later, just like the commission of inquiry. Also, in regards to the plan, if there are actions in there that people say are not quite right or do not quite work and they need to be changed, we will change them.

That is why we have our Hearing Lived Experience survey open for 12 months so we have the initial survey results to help us inform the plan. Also, when we release the plan we will have months of feedback from victim/survivors and stakeholders to say, 'That one is not quite right, we think it should be changed'. It is not going to come out with all the answers.

Dr WOODRUFF - That sounds like a good start. Is there anything that you are doing or have in the pipeline to deal with the fact that young people cannot have access to money? They are incredibly vulnerable to not being able to make decisions for their own safety. They could have accommodation, but the actual money and being able to have a phone, being able to pay for a taxi or an Uber, clothes, food - if they cannot get support from their family, which usually is broken, then -

Mrs PETRUSMA - When I had child safety services for young people who were in that situation, there used to be funding that they could access through other means, whether it was from social services or organisations in this state that have funding pools to assist these kids. Now that comes under Mr Jaensch's portfolio, but there were definitely different pools of fund available for young people in those situations. That is how we used to help those young people then.

Dr WOODRUFF - One last question, in relation to a gap, one of the problems is knowing who is missing essentially, which children are missing. SARC has identified through another bit of work that the information is not available when somebody is not turning up to school. The school makes contact with parents, but when somebody persistently does not turn up to school, they just sort of drop off the register. Can you have a conversation with the Minister for Education about this issue, because it is tracking, finding people and understanding reaching out for them, not waiting for them to reach out to a service. Finding where they are so services can actually do the follow-up with young people who are not in school.

Mrs PETRUSMA - The minister is very much aware of that issue and conversations have definitely been led. The minister's advisor is also very much aware too of the work Carmel is undertaking, so the minister's office has been informed of that work.