PATRICIA KARVELAS: Linda Burney is the Shadow Minister for Community Services, welcome back to RN Drive.
KARVELAS: Can you walk me through how this fund will assist a woman who is looking to leave a violent relationship?
BURNEY: Yes I can. So as you said in your introduction, the money will come from the Banking Fairness Fund which is something like $640 million. We’re talking about $60 million and that will fund 20,000 packages across the country over the next four years, so that means 20,000 women and their children will be able to leave violent situations with support.
Now as you know Patricia, when a woman makes the decision to leave it could be after a long time, there are often children involved and quite often a woman will stay in a difficult domestic violence relationship if there are no financial resources.
Women often leave with $12 in the bank and the shirt on their back so this fund will be administered through the services that already exist to look after domestic violence and it will be available to all people who are finding themselves in these situations.
It will be up to $10,000 but the experience of Victoria which is where we’ve taken the model from is that most packages are about $3,000 and it will be for really practical things. The bond on your new place if you need it. Fixing up your car if that’s necessary. Getting your kids new school clothes if they’re changing schools. Having your pet boarded if the pet’s the reason you’re staying. Quite often domestic violence perpetrators will threaten to harm the pets so often the woman will stay in the relationship because she doesn’t want that to happen. It can mean things like utility bills, it can mean white goods. It can mean whatever is absolutely necessary for that woman financially to be able to leave that situation safely with her children.
KARVELAS: How will the level of need be determined? Would there be an application process? And how long would it take ‘til they can access the money?
BURNEY: So we – we spoke to people from Victoria over the course of developing this and we spoke again to organisations in Victoria that are administering the fund here. And if it’s really urgent it can happen on the same day. There is an application process obviously. And there is enormous accountability. But the really important thing about this fund is that there is no requirement for the person that’s made the huge decision to leave to actually refund the money. And people have said to me, what if women exploit the fund? Well our experience will ask for exactly what they need, no more, and think about other women who are in need as well.
KARVELAS: Would someone in Victoria who has access to services in Victoria by the Victorian Government still be able to access the federal fund?
BURNEY: I wouldn’t imagine so. We haven’t actually addressed that question, but it’s a very good question, but my view would be if that fund has already been accessed in Victoria – what we’re talking about these 20,000 packages are additional to what’s in place now. That means that women right across the country will have access.
KARVELAS: This is being paid out of this Banking Fairness Fund, why are the banks paying for this? Are they just an easy target at the moment?
BURNEY: No I don’t think they’re an easy target. But you know the – I think you would agree and people listening to us would agree that the banks have some community obligations to make up – particularly with the way which many of them have conducted themselves. And we see banks are never going – this is the four big banks – are not going to fall over and the fund that we’re talking about, the money that we’re talking about provided to – being provided to women in their hour of need will in fact enhance the banks anyhow. We believe the banks have a responsibility to give to back to the community and what an important issue in our community to give back to.
KARVELAS: If you’re just tuning in, Linda Burney is my guest, she’s a Labor frontbencher. 0418 226 576 is our text line.
A special report by Guardian Australia has mapped known massacres of Indigenous people and makes the point that the history of the frontier wars is something we still don’t spend a lot of time examining. Is that a fair point?
BURNEY: Look, I’m so glad you’re talking about this. It is an absolutely a fair point, but the really big question I think is that we need to know our story. We need to know our truth and that will make us a better country knowing where we’ve come from and where we’re going to.
KARVELAS: There has been a lot of discussion around the idea of truth-telling as part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Is there a role for the Federal Government here?
BURNEY: There is an absolute role for the federal government. As, uh, you would be aware, Labor has adopted, uh, accepted the Uluru statement. And a part of that was a national process of truth-telling. Of course, the reconciliation process in the 90s and early 2000s and a lot of that. I remember, Patricia, going out to the first commemoration of the Myall Creek Massacre and the commemoration ceremony included people that had - relatives of people that had been massacred, and those that did the massacring. It was just the most powerful experience.
I remember speaking a few years ago to a teacher in the Northern Territory – whose father was a boy was in the Coniston massacre. He was one of the only survivors. You know, he’s about my age. This is not ancient history.
KARVELAS: It certainly isn’t ancient history. And as you say, a lot of people like you have it running in their hearts and in their minds. There was a Royal Commission in the 1920s.  But would you support something like a truth and reconciliation to examine indigenous massacres?
BURNEY: Well, the Uluru Statement recommended a Makarata commission. And of course, that was about agreement and treaty making. We haven’t nutted out exactly how Labor is going to go forward – apart from the fact that we have agreed of course to a Referendum to enshrine an Aboriginal voice into the constitution. We have agreed to the truth-telling process and a Makarata commission. It would seem to me that those two processes could very well go together.
But really, the truth-telling – Patricia - needs to happen at the local level. Be it the local council, be it a group from the historical society, be it a whole community working together – like they’ve done for the Myall Creek massacre site. Like they’ve done it up at Appin – [inaudible] – it commemorates every year, an amazing ceremony of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people remembering the Appin massacre. It is happening, but we’d like to see across the country and be it fairly organic.
KARVELAS: Thank you so much for your time Linda.