Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (13:53): I rise to support Detour House and its sister organisation The Girls Refuge, which are crisis centres for young women and girls located in the inner west. Detour House provides up to 15 months support to young adult women recovering from drug and alcohol dependency and other complex problems, while also providing support for independent housing transitions after a stay at the house. Since 1975 The Girls Refuge, based in Leichhardt, has cared for over 200 girls at a time aged 13 to 15, either on site at the refuge or within the local area. The refuge helps girls who are at high risk of homelessness due to family breakdown, domestic and family violence, trauma, abuse or other problems related to drug and alcohol misuse or problems with mental health. The refuge is a supportive home-like environment where the girls are able to receive assistance to stabilise their lives. I’m pleased to be supporting these organisations at a fundraiser on Monday, 11 June 2018 at the Leichhardt bowling club. The main attraction is a performance by the Day Street Band, a group of musos from Day Street, Leichhardt, who will give up their time, as they have for the last few years. I’ll be providing a bit of support at the event, DJ’ing as the warm-up act to support these women and girls— (Time expired)
Oktoberwest also aimed to raise further awareness about the unfair rate of federal excise that is disadvantaging our craft brewers. Today the rate of federal excise charged for a keg containing 50 litres of beer is less than the rate charged for a keg containing 30 litres. That disadvantages the small businesses that want to get their product into local pubs and want to support local jobs. This excise makes up approximately 40 per cent of their operating costs. The day was a triumph of live music, arts, entertainment and great food. Indeed, I want to particularly thank The Morrisons, who got me on stage at the Factory Theatre to present the argument for voting yes for marriage equality in the current voluntary postal survey. It was also a celebration about the creativity and sustainability of local businesses that create jobs. I will continue to argue the case that craft brewers deserve fair treatment—they deserve fair treatment because they have grown exponentially in recent years. There are now over 420 craft breweries right around Australia, not just in our cities but in our regional centres as well. They’re good for local small business; they’re also good as tourist attractions in their own right. That is why the government needs to respond to the current inequity which exists, to support jobs and to support local small business.
With the WestConnex project, guarantees were given by the former roads minister, Duncan Gay, and by the people in charge of the WestConnex project, that there would be no clearways on King Street. Clearways on King Street, Newtown, would destroy the fabric and vibrancy of that community for people who live in Newtown and for people who visit Newtown, whether they be from other parts of Sydney or from other parts of Australia and the world.
There has been, once again, concern expressed by the community that that commitment would be breached. I have had constructive discussions with the roads minister of New South Wales, Melinda Pavey, and have facilitated discussions to take place between Minister Pavey and the Chamber of Commerce of Newtown. The Newtown chamber represents those vibrant small businesses, and they’re absolutely determined to ensure that the no-clearways policy on King Street is maintained. It is a pity that the state member for Newtown seems incapable of making any representations about practical issues confronting the relationship between the community that she represents as a Greens MP and the state government. But the local businesses—as happens in lots of local communities—are coming to me to make those representations to the state government, and I am pleased to step into the void that has been created. But, given that the state member for Newtown said that WestConnex had been stopped with her election, it is not surprising that you don’t have that practical outcome. I look forward to Minister Pavey recommitting to former Minister Gay’s commitment that there will be no clearways on King Street.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:44): Developers need to understand that the key to successful urban redevelopment is bringing the local community with them. Their projects need to complement the suburban landscape, not dominate it. I certainly believe in higher densities close to public transport corridors, but what we’re seeing with the arrogant state government in New South Wales is an attempt to change the landscape of the city in a way that will destroy the vibrancy of communities. Along the Sydenham to Bankstown line is the industrial area of Marrickville. It currently plays an important role. Companies like Erth Visual & Physical and Empress Stilt Dance produce things like a 2.7-metre-high T. rexwalk-in puppet for creative use. There are IT companies in that industrial area of Marrickville that are creative, are creating jobs and are boosting our national economy as well as the vibrancy of the local community.
Yet the government wants to rezone this area with a proposal that shocked me when I met with Mirvac a couple of weeks ago. Mirvac developed the former Harold Park site with increased density. They’re developing the Marrickville Hospital site on Marrickville Road. Both of those projects have aspects of open space. They’re vibrant communities. They’re not significant overdevelopments. But what they propose in Carrington Road in south Marrickville, in the industrial area, where there are single-storey and two-storey houses, are 28-storey developments. In an area that doesn’t have great road access to it and has congestion right now, 28-storeys is a massive overdevelopment. It is greed gone mad, and I told Mirvac that. I will campaign with the community against such an overdevelopment proposal. Marrickville has a character to it, and the idea that you can go into an area of Marrickville that has one- and two-storey heritage houses, which families live in, and just change that to 28 storeys is, quite frankly, absurd. I say too, as I said to the Property Council last week: developers have an important role to play, but they will face the anger and fury of local communities if they put greed above the interests of those local communities.
For almost 50 years, RDVSA have provided specialist sexual assault and domestic violence trauma counselling. Its staff are highly qualified. RDVSA uses the Standards of Practice Manual for Services against Sexual Violence, which requires counsellors to have a tertiary qualification in counselling, social work, psychology or equivalent, and at least three years counselling experience. The organisation is well-known for this expertise, and its executive officer, Karen Willis, has received an AOM for her work in relation to violence against women.
Since its inception, 1800RESPECT, which is an important Labor legacy—and RDVSA has been the sole provider of its specialist trauma counselling, assisting women living with domestic violence nationwide. The decision to withdraw from the 1800RESPECT counselling service follows a series of decisions made by the Turnbull government and lengthy negotiations with Medibank Health Solutions. In October 2006 RDVSA’s contract with the Turnbull government expired, and the contract for 1800RESPECT was put out to tender. While the Turnbull government has announced the 1800RESPECT service will continue, RDVSA will see its funding slashed by 75 per cent, with this funding allocated to three other organisations. It would also be required to operate as part of the MHS call centre model. MHS, of course, was not subject to an open-tender process. The quality and experience of these three other organisations is not under dispute. Each plays a critical role in their respective states assisting women living with domestic violence.
The issue here is with the Turnbull government’s decision to slash RDVSA’s funding by 75 per cent, which will see a reduction in the specialist services they offer, and a loss of jobs. The previous speaker, with respect, said they could just go to work for one of the organisations that has been offered a contract. If they were to do that, it would require these women, with families, to move interstate. It is not that simple, and the government knows that full well.
The Turnbull government should be looking at ways it can facilitate the growth of organisations like RDVSA. The fact is that new support for crisis services should not involve a reduction in the availability of much needed trauma counselling services. But for RDVSA this decision to withdraw is not just about the reduction in funding. It’s also about some of the new contract conditions, which have caused serious concerns. These ethical concerns are about requirements that include an obligation to hand over client files, and to allow voice recording, and we are yet to be told how these voice recordings would be excluded from obligations under subpoenas.
If RDVSA had accepted the new panel arrangement, the organisation would have seen 50 staff redundancies. As it is, withdrawing from the contract means 70 staff redundancies. We’ve been told the staff support this decision, because of their many concerns about the proposed new arrangement. This last change to the service, to reduce access to trauma counsellors and transform the service so that it focuses on information and referral, rather than specialist trauma counselling, comes after the Turnbull government and its for-profit contractor, Medibank Health Services, last year started diverting callers away from RDVSA specialist trauma counsellors to lesser-qualified people, in a first responder triage process. The Turnbull government needs to say how it will make sure that Australian victims and survivors of domestic and family violence and sexual violence, and their supporters, have access to specialist trauma counselling.
The Turnbull government also must say what it will do to avoid the loss of 70 experienced frontline domestic and family violence and sexual violence staff. These are committed people—I have met with them. They’re very upset that they won’t be able to continue to do the work. The Turnbull government also must say how the severance entitlement of these frontline workers will be covered.
Dear Mr Albanese,
My wife and I have lived in Rozelle for almost 20 years and we are absolutely not against development.
We understand that a 21st Century city needs a smart combination of private and public transport options …
It is beyond us to understand how any responsible government, any responsible human being in fact, in a first world country, considers it even conceivable that it is remotely acceptable to first concentrate and then spew unfiltered exhaust fumes onto its citizens.
We realise filters will cost up front and surely cost to maintain, but our point of view is this must be built into the cost of the project and delivered as part of the project. To do anything other is outright irresponsible.
Four of the stacks are being built in the suburb of Rozelle within a stone’s throw of local schools. All seven of them are situated in the middle of densely populated residential areas with more schools nearby.
The current NSW Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, recently remarked, at the suggestion that a smokestack be built near a school on Sydney’s North Shore, ‘There is no way in hell that I’d support any development that would put the lives of pupils, teachers and parents at risk.’ The NSW coalition government are saying that there won’t be any stacks near any schools in electorates which they hold, but it’s fair game near schools in seats held by Labor.
We’re better than this as a nation in the 21st century. We deserve the same care for our kids and schools, regardless of who the local MP is. And we want the same protections in Rozelle, St Peters and Haberfield that Minister Stokes thinks that schools on the North Shore deserve. I call upon the Minister for WestConnex, Stuart Ayres, and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to do the right thing and protect the residents of the state they claim to represent by filtering any stacks from this project.
RDVSA made its decision to withdraw last week following considerable negotiations with Medibank Health Solutions. It was a decision not made lightly, especially given that up to 110 specialist sexual assault and domestic violence workers and other specialists employed at RDVSA will lose their jobs in October. Worse still, RDVSA may need to close its doors. Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia has been providing specialist sexual assault and domestic violence trauma counselling for almost 50 years. It’s regarded internationally, including by the UN. It plays a critical role in its community, supporting many women through very challenging times. The government must ensure that both the staff at RDVSA and RDVSA itself are not hung out to dry.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:00): The statistics on violence against women in Australia are shocking. On average at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner. One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. Women are five times more likely than men to require medical attention or hospitalisation as a result of intimate partner violence and five times more likely to report fearing for their lives. Half of its victims have children in their care. There is evidence that women with disabilities experience high levels of violence and that Indigenous women experience higher rates of more severe forms of violence than the rest of the population. Domestic violence is the leading cause of death, disability and illness among women aged 15 to 44 years. It is higher than motor vehicle accidents, blood pressure or smoking. It destroys individuals, families and communities. It costs the Australian economy around one per cent of GDP in lost productivity.
The ABS estimates that around two-thirds of women who experience domestic violence are in the workforce. That means that more than 800,000 women, or around one in six women workers, are experiencing some form of violence in their home. Apart from the personal impact of violence, there are costs to employers. These include increased absenteeism and staff turnover, decreased performance and productivity, conflict among workers and safety issues for everyone if the perpetrator of violence goes to the workplace, which we know occurs at alarming rates.
In a report for the Australia Institute Dr Jim Stanford confirmed what domestic violence counsellors have been saying for decades. Economic insecurity is one of the most significant obstacles confronting women in their decision to leave a violent relationship. Introducing paid domestic violence leave into the National Employment Standards offers an important opportunity to reach people living with violence and to provide them with support. The current federal government does not support paid domestic violence leave and this government is actively removing access to this vital lifesaving workplace right from the agreements covering its own employees.
Ill-informed claims and actions by the government are dangerous and negligent. It’s time that they had a rethink on this issue, which should be above politics. Stanford’s report calculates that the cost of providing every worker access to 10 days paid domestic violence leave to be less than 100th of a per cent of last year’s increase in average weekly wages. The idea that this would even be noticed internationally, let alone undermine our competitiveness, is extraordinary. Some of Australia’s leading companies—Qantas, IKEA, NAB, Westpac, Woolworths and Telstra—have all done this. Make no mistake: not paying domestic violence leave is not free. The reality is that the cost of inaction is too high. Paid domestic violence leave will make it easier for women to leave violence. It will make it easier to keep children safe. It will make our workforce healthier and safer. It will save lives. In 2017 there are no more excuses.