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.



A Shorten Labor Government will provide practical support to help those who have experienced domestic and family violence leave violent relationships and rebuild their lives.

Labor will deliver around 20,000 Flexible Support Packages over four years, to be funded from Labor’s Banking Fairness Fund at a cost of $60 million.

Financial insecurity is one of the biggest barriers to a woman leaving a violent relationship - something that can persist for years as people try to rebuild their lives.

Each Flexible Support Package will be individually designed to address the barriers women and their children face in getting safe and keeping safe.

It is practical assistance at a time survivors of family violence and their children need it most.

Domestic and family violence services will be able to work with women to tailor Flexible Support Packages in the way that helps victims most - such as rent, furniture, transport, medication, home security and transport costs.

For many women it will mean they can keep seeing the family doctor they know, continue to get to work and keep children in the school they are familiar with.

It will also mean survivors can furnish rental accommodation and meet the short-terms costs of continuing study.

Flexible Support Packages are a tried and tested initiative, and they work.

Flexible Support Packages have been provided in Victoria for several years, with an evaluation finding they have had a transformational benefit for women and children leaving domestic or family violence.

All people experiencing family or domestic violence will be eligible to apply for a Flexible Support Package. This includes children in out-of-home care, young people fleeing violence, temporary visa holders, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and LGBTIQ people.

A Shorten Labor Government will ensure family violence survivors across Australia get this kind of support to re-build their lives.



The Government must do more to make sure the National Redress Scheme is working for survivors.
A third of the 2,728 survivors who have applied for redress are in limbo because the Government has not secured the participation of all relevant institutions.
In total, only 51 survivors have actually received redress, out of an estimated 60,000 survivors who are expected to ultimately apply.
More than seven months after the scheme started, this is unacceptable.
Institutions have a clear moral obligation to join the scheme – and the Government must take a more active role in making sure organisations are able to quickly and simply join the Scheme.
The public deserves to know who hasn’t signed up and what the Government is doing to expedite the process.
Survivors have waited long enough.
Should Labor be afforded the privilege of forming government, we will seek to work with the states and territories to address outstanding concerns with the National Redress Scheme, including:

  • the maximum payment – the Royal Commission recommended $200,000 but the current maximum is $150,000;

  • the indexation of past payments;

  • fair access for people in prison or with criminal records;

  • the adequacy of counselling support services; and

  • the time people have to consider an offer of redress.


While people with disability continue to wait, Scott Morrison is haggling with states and territories over who would fund a royal commission.
This is a cheapskate move.
Today, we are reminded once again that Scott Morrison had to be shamed into action, after the Government said no to a royal commission three times - including voting against it twice in the Parliament.
Scott Morrison continues to defer and delay, by trying to offload the cost of this royal commission onto the states and territories. 
This didn’t happen with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, nor the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety – why is this any different?
This royal commission should be fully federally funded and Scott Morrison could easily set aside the money for this in the budget.
Just last week, Bill Shorten wrote to the premiers and chief ministers to make it clear that if Labor is fortunate enough to form government he would seek their support for this royal commission.
Labor committed to a separate, dedicated and fully federally funded royal commission in May 2017.
For years, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government opposed the royal commission. 15 months after the Senate delivered its report into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability, the Government rejected its recommendations for a royal commission.
It has since voted against a royal commission in the Senate twice, as well as attempting to shamefully obstruct it in the House. 
Scott Morrison can always seem to find the money for the top end of town - why can’t he find it for a proper inquiry into the abuse of people with disability?
People with disability, their families, advocates and representative organisations have fought hard and long enough for this royal commission, they deserve a government who takes it seriously.
People with disability deserve a proper, broad-based inquiry to get to the truth. It should cover a wide range of contexts, including into health, mental health, justice and educational settings, as well as historic abuse. 
The test for the Government is to fully fund this in the budget and ensure that people with disability and their families are properly consulted in developing the terms of reference.



KATHRYN ROBINSON, PRESENTER: For more on this now I’m joined by Labor MP Linda Burney the Shadow Minister for Human Services [sic] from Parliament House in Canberra – good evening to you Linda Burney thank you for joining us tonight.
LINDA BURNEY: Good Evening.
ROBINSON: As we’ve just heard Scott Morrison has committed to supporting a non-binding motion for a Royal Commission into disability care. This is a good step isn’t it?
BURNEY: This is a very good step that there is now bi-partisan support for a Royal Commission. That doesn’t take away from the fact that the Morrison Government voted three times against a Royal Commission but we have the agreement now. The real question now is the speed at which the Royal Commission is established, the budget allocation for the Royal Commission and we encourage the Government very much that they move quickly on this and do not leave it.
You could not be anything except inspired by the people that came to Canberra today, by the people I’ve met over the last few weeks. Their carers, their parents – the people with disabilities themselves. They deserve this Royal Commission.
ROBINSON: Linda Burney you mention the timing is of the essence here – should the Royal Commission be held before or after the election?
BURNEY: I am worried that there will be delay tactics by the Government in terms of this Royal Commission. Labor is very committed to developing the terms of reference and we believe for it to be a true terms of reference it needs to be developed with people with a disability, their carers and advocates.
But we are worried that it will be pushed off into the long grass and we don’t want to see this happen. As I said earlier, these people have been waiting a long time, the abuses continue as we speak and a Royal Commission is the king of inquiries and it will shine a light on this, it will provide healing but very importantly, it will also provide direction and improvements in the systems that apply to people with disability.
ROBINSON: What needs to happen now to get the ball rolling in your opinion? We heard from Senator Steele-Jones [sic] this afternoon, asking Scott Morrison to pick up the phone and call the state and territory ministers, is it as simple as that?
BURNEY: There does need to be negotiation with the states and territories, particularly because we are advocating very strongly that there needs to be a historical context to the Royal Commission so that stories from ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years ago can be told and obviously many of the institutions run by the states have been involved in those sorts of activities – but it should not be used as an excuse to delay the setting up of a Royal Commission, the choosing of the Royal Commissioners and developing the terms of reference in consultation with the advocacy groups.
It’s not like this is new material for those people that have been living with a disability or carers or advocates – they know what’s needed and I don’t think it will take a great deal of time to set up the terms of reference, make a budget allocation towards a Royal Commission and get it started.
ROBINSON: What areas would you like to see included in the terms of reference? Should this Royal Commission be narrow or should it be broad?
BURNEY: No it should be broad, that’s very important and thank you for asking that question. For us to get and for the Australian people and for people with disability it has to be broad. It has to show what the interface is with the education system. For example, many children with disability go to special schools, they go to regular schools. The health system obviously, mental health system, rehabilitation facilities and justice is another one. Those interfaces need to be a very important part of a broad ranging inquiry like this – like we’re suggesting. And as I said the other part of it is that there needs to be a historical context.  So that stories from long ago – adults now and when they were children and young teens can be told.  I met a woman the other day who was sexually abused in an institution. It took her 30 years ago to talk about that, and that’s important.
ROBINSON: Could this day of delayed justice – as we heard in the story before this interview – could this day have been brought forward, if the Labor Party had brought this issue up in Question Time earlier, in the last year or two?
BURNEY: Well, let’s be clear on what the history is here. There was a Senate enquiry in 2015. The first recommendation was a commitment to a Royal Commission. It took the Government 15 months to respond to that. In late May 2016 [sic], the Labor Party announced and made a financial commitment to a Royal Commission and have been running an ongoing petition towards that.
So it’s not like we haven’t announced it. It’s not like there wasn’t a budget commitment to have the first year of the Royal Commission. It has been on the books for - two years. And it was last Thursday the Government voted against – last Wednesday that the Government voted against it. And on Thursday when it did come to the house, the Prime Minister extended Question Time to avoid a vote - as much as he saying he didn’t. So this is not something new for Labor. We have been in this game for a long time, and we are very pleased now, very very pleased that it is going to be a bi-partisan approach.
ROBINSON: Finally, Linda Burney if I may - just ask you question on the other political story of the day - the cybersecurity breach. Do you know much more about that, and does the timing at all concern you, given it’s an election year?
BURNEY: I don’t know any more than what’s on the public record, and I think we’re all in that situation. Clearly, when it comes to security Labor is at one with the Government on this.  Cybersecurity is particularly concerning, and as you said, especially in an election year. Democracy is precious – and that’s what we’re protecting here. So we are working closely, and at one with the Government on making sure that no stone is left unturned, to find out who did this, what was hacked, and what the implications are. But as I say, we are at one with the Government when it comes to security, including cybersecurity.


What the Government did in Question Time today was absolutely shameful.
It is deeply disappointing and cruel that the Government used every trick in the book to deny, delay and defer a vote on a Royal Commission into violence and abuse against people with disability.
People with disability, their families, advocates and representative organisations have long called for a separate and dedicated Royal Commission.
Bill Shorten committed a Labor Government to holding a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability in May 2017.
People with disability, their families and carers have known for too long the prevalent and pervasive nature of violence, abuse and neglect – in our health, mental health, education and other services. 
People with disability deserve their own Royal Commission to get to the truth and bring lasting change. Nothing less will suffice.


LINDA BURNEY, SHADOW MINSITER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE, MEMBER FOR BARTON: Good morning, today, the Prime Minister will speak in the parliament on Closing the Gap and so will the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten. Closing the Gap targets were set by the Kevin Rudd Government 10 years ago. Those targets were realistic and appropriate and remain so today. By Scott Morrison saying the targets were inadequate, the targets were inappropriate is just moving the goal posts. Those targets are adequate and they are important. Labor has advocated there should be additional targets. There should be a justice target and a target around the removal of Aboriginal children.
The 2014 budget brought down by this government was horrendous for Aboriginal affairs. $500 million was ripped out of the Aboriginal affairs budget. You do not fix the issues in Aboriginal communities by taking away half a billion dollars out of the budget. There needs to be a recommitment to partnership with Aboriginal people and organisations. We are calling on that partnership. We are saying very clearly that peak Aboriginal organisations and Aboriginal communities have the answers to the social issues that dog those communities.
Scott Morrison today says he’s going to make an announcement about removing HECS fees for teachers to go and work in remote communities. Well that just ignores the fact that 79% of Aboriginal people live in urban environments. In fact, that number is very real. 79% of Aboriginal people living in urban environments. Yes, the issues in remote communities are shocking. They need to be addressed, but the Prime Minister and this government ignores that two thirds of Aboriginal people actually live in urban environments.
When you look at the record of the Morrison Government in Aboriginal affairs, it is shocking. CDP for example is languishing out there in the bush. Labor will reform CDP program. The changes to the Indigenous Advancement Strategy have been an absolute disaster for Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal organisations. We will reform that.
The Turnbull Morrison Abbott governments have ignored and pushed away and dismissed the Uluru Statement. The Uluru Statement was a call from the heart by the Aboriginal people saying that they wanted a say in what affects Aboriginal communities. We in Labor have adopted the Uluru Statement. We will move to entrenching an Aboriginal voice in the constitution, we will move an Aboriginal truth telling process, and we will address the issues of agreement and treaty making. This has been ignored, pushed away and fibbed about quite frankly by the present government.
The Labor Party will also convene a gathering of aboriginal leaders in the first week, if we are afforded government and we are afforded that great honour. We will also have a summit for Aboriginal children and the removal of Aboriginal children within the first 100 days. None of these commitments are being articulated by the Morrison government. The envoy or the envoy, Tony Abbott, is just focusing on remote communities and just focusing on education. That is important. We are not dismissing that. But it is ignoring the bulk of Aboriginal people that live in regional and urban environments.
Can I just finish off by saying this, Aboriginal people and peak organisations have formed a coalition and they are working towards partnership. Labor agrees with that partnership. And we are calling the Morrison Government to truly make a commitment and make that partnership a reality. The issues in Aboriginal affairs will not be fixed by bureaucrats or politicians in Canberra. The issues in Aboriginal affairs will be fixed by those bureaucrats and us politicians listening to peak organisations and listening to what’s happening in those Aboriginal communities.  That’s where the answers are.



Scott Morrison deserves no congratulations for reversing the Liberals’ own cuts to the housing and support services that women and children fleeing family violence rely on.

The simple fact remains that the Liberals cut $44 million in annual funding for emergency housing in the 2014 horror Budget. Their housing announcement today doesn’t even make up for what they have cut.

After five years of neglecting these crucial services, Scott Morrison has admitted he got it wrong.

He’s copy-and-pasted many of Labor’s existing funding commitments on emergency housing and the Keeping Women Safe in their Homes program – they are following our lead.

The Liberals’ record shows that leadership on preventing family violence simply hasn’t been a priority for this Government –

• Scott Morrison is still refusing to back Labor’s plan for 10-days paid domestic violence leave.

• They dragged their feet on funding for legal aid as part of cross-examination reforms to prevent perpetrators from directly cross-examining victims in court.

• The Government had to be shamed into reversing part of their cuts to Community Legal Centres.

• The Liberals’ abolished the Women’s Budget Statement to hide the harmful impacts of their policies on women.

• They abolished the National Plan Advisory Group which guided the development of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

With the Liberal and National parties going backwards on women’s representation in the Parliament, it’s no wonder they lack leadership on gender equality policy.

Preventing family violence requires consistent leadership and Labor has demonstrated this with our long-standing commitments to serious reform.

A Shorten Labor Government will:

• Legislate for 10 days paid domestic violence leave;

• Quickly begin work on a new 10-year National Plan;

• Reinstate a National Plan Advisory Group, and the Women’s Budget Statement;

• Meet our target of 50 per cent women’s representation in Parliament; and

• Provide $88 million over two years for a new Safe Housing Fund.



SUBJECTS: Royal Commission into Violence and Abuse against People with Disability

RICHARD PERNO: I can’t my head around someone who is disabled Linda being trapped in either a bed or not being able to get away from an abuser. It’s a horrible thing to picture isn’t it Linda?
LINDA BURNEY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE, MEMBER FOR BARTON: Oh it’s horrendous and the problem or one of the realities Richard is that it’s not an unusual situation. Many women that are disabled are the women most prone to sexual assault. And of course the really shocking statistic is also that children with a disability are much more likely to be abused than children that don’t have a disability.
PERNO: Yes. Is it also hard to get your ahead around that it could be happening in the family home, in the kitchen, in the lounge room, in the bedroom?
BURNEY: Well, it’s where it mostly happens. You know, we know that every three months in Australia someone with a disability dies at the hands of their carer. And the carer is generally somebody that they’re related to or someone that’s well known to the family. So the Labor Party announced some time ago well before I was the minister – Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services – a Royal Commission into people with disability and we think it’s a very important Royal Commission that will take place if we are afforded government
PERNO: Jordon Steele-John, the Greens Senator for Western Australia, you know him, broke down last September. He listed the names of those with a disability who died while they were in care. Yet another alarm bell.
BURNEY: Well that was a very poignant moment in the Senate. Of course Jordon Steele-John is wheelchair bound himself and knows firsthand what it means to have a disability. I have met numerous numerous hundreds of people now across this country with disability, from really profound disability Richard, and that’s where the person is non-verbal, and is often fed through a [inaudible] tube which is directly into their tummy because they don’t have the capacity to swallow, the absolutely vulnerable people in our society. But I also think we should make it very clear that most carers do an amazing role, often without pay, particularly if you’re parents of a child with a disability, and I’ve met many of those people as well.
PERNO: Why is it that we have to go to a federal election to get this done?
BURNEY: Well, we would like the Coalition to join with us in calling for a Royal Commission. To give them some credit, they announced a Royal Commission into aged care which of course has enormous issues. As well we saw that writ large this year. And one of the groups will be considered in this aged care Royal Commission will be young people and people with a disability in nursing homes, and I think that’s another huge issue. You have to ask the questions, are nursing homes the best place for young people with a disability and the answer is probably no.
PERNO: No, absolutely. How are you going to though monitor that abuse that occurs in the family home?
BURNEY: Well the Royal – well the thing that I think is very important about a Royal Commission is that it doesn’t become a vehicle where nothing is done in the interim while the Royal Commission is taking place. So it’s really about people that are on an NDIS package, having proper monitoring, it’s making sure that we are in good contact with carers and the carers networks. There are some very fine peak carer organisations and also many young carers – many carers are children as well, some of them going to school, so you need to make you’ve got good connections and support systems in place for carers as well.

PERNO: And I suppose if someone is under the NDIS, there’s a paper trail isn’t there Linda?
BURNEY: Where there is a paper trail. People on the NDIS have a plan and, they are the buyers of the services, so for example if you need speech therapy or physiotherapy, or mobility devices then there are people that you would hope that would be keeping an eye on them. I think that needs to be strengthened. I think there needs to be an element of case management introduced, and they’re the sorts of things we’ll be thinking about. But the job for the moment is to work out and refine the terms of reference for a Royal Commission, think about who you would appointment as a commissioner. And of course, win an election .
PERNO: That’s it too. But as I said Linda Burney, why hasn’t this been taken on a non-partisan basis? And a Royal Commission you can’t say no to question, you can’t dodge a question, and you have to face the fray. If you’re’ asked questions you have to answer them
BURNEY: That’s right. Only a Royal Commission has the weight and authority and investigative powers to examine the accounts of people with disability. And that is really important. You can have very many other commissions, or special inquiries, and there have been inquiries of course in the past. But a Royal Commission as you’ve pointed out Richard does give you the weight and the authority and investigative powers.
PERNO: What are they going to say on the other side of the house?
BURNEY: I think it would be very hard to say no, we won’t support this. Obviously, the aged care Royal Commission will need to run its course, and I’m not sure – I think it’s a 12 month inquiry. I would like to see this as a 12 month inquiry as well which I think that many of facts are already known. But it’s having the capacity to investigate and recommend for sanctions and that’s what’s really important about a Royal Commission .
PERNO: Yeah and if it comes out like it did with the other Royal Commission into child sex abuse and also on to a lesser extent – and I don’t mean lesser extent by the impact but where we’re dealing with money with the Royal Commission  into the banking industry, we’re going to hear some pretty gruesome tales aren’t we Linda?
BURNEY: Well we’re going to hear some very very gruesome tales, and the important thing for government is not just to you know getting the Royal Commission started and going through the process, but the really critical party is looking at the recommendations that come out of a Royal Commission, not cherry pick them, and make sure that it’s implemented in a way that is going to have structural and real change for people with disability.
PERNO: That’s it. And the end result has to be that doesn’t it? There has to be some conclusions. We can’t just say yes it exists and then good bye.
BURNEY: No, abolsutely, and you may as well not do it if that’s how the outcomes are going to be treated.
PERNO: Yeah, it’s just a shame you have to go to a federal election to just get what you feel , which is a very moral stance Linda Burney, across the wire.
BURNEY: Well, I couldn’t agree with you more, that that is a situation is, and as I said, Labor will definitely pursue this Royal Commission if we are afforded government.
PERNO: Linda Burney, Shadow Minister for Families, Social Services and Shadow for Preventing Family Violence, alongside Senator Carol Brown, Shadow Minister for Disability and Carers, Senator for Tasmania.  


Shocking reports today underscore the urgent need for a dedicated Royal Commission into violence and abuse against people with disability.
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission have more clearly exposed the prevalence of this problem.
But we don’t need yet another media report to know that violence and abuse against people with disability occurs at much higher rates than the rest of the community, often in places where they are meant to be receiving support.
Children with disability are particularly vulnerable, and women with disability are more likely to experience family violence.
Advocates are saying these latest reports are just the “tip of the iceberg”, and they have been calling for a Royal Commission for years now.
The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government should join Labor and commit to establishing a dedicated Royal Commission as a matter of urgency.
People with disability deserve nothing less.


The rate of domestic and family violence increases at Christmas, and it’s important all Australians are on the lookout for the signs and know where to get help.

Last December calls to 1800 RESPECT spiked by 22 per cent and NSW Police reported domestic violence call outs were 40 per cent higher in December than June 2017.  

“Keep on the lookout for family, friends, workmates and neighbours that might be victims of domestic or family violence,” Linda Burney, Shadow Minister for Preventing Family Violence, said.

“Violence against women can be physical, emotional, psychological and sexual.

“We need to look for more than bruises – manipulation, threats, coercion, humiliation, stalking and controlling behaviour are all forms of domestic violence.

“If something seems wrong with someone you know, ask if they are OK. Don’t leave it to chance. It could be the most important thing you do this Christmas.

“Stress, financial difficulties and alcohol make Christmas difficult for many families. But there is never any excuse for violence – it’s always a choice.

 "We all have a responsibility to call-out and stamp-out violence against women and children."

1800 RESPECT will be available through the holiday period, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000.
For sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling services call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit


A report by the Auditor General has exposed the Government hiding the truth about excessive Disability Support Pension (DSP) wait times.
The Auditor General’s report has revealed that claims that take more than 84 days to process are simply not counted towards the average processing time – this means that the public figures of average wait times are simply not true.
The departments of Human Services and Social Services agreed in 2015 that this measure should be changed, yet as at September 2018 the Government had still not come clean on the true state of the DSP backlog.
Thousands of vulnerable Australians waiting for their DSP claim to be processed may rightly ask why the Government is trying to hide the true extent of the problem.
Over the last four years the Government has cut thousands of staff from DHS and started the privatisation of Centrelink, and the proportion of DSP claims taking more than 84 days has quadrupled.
“A large proportion of claims each quarter take more than 84 days to be finalised. Between Q3 2016–17 and Q4 2017–18 this accounted for about 40 to 60 per cent of all claims finalised, compared to around 10 to 20 per cent in 2014–15 when the exclusion was agreed.”
[Auditor General Report No. 13, 2018-19, p54]

The exclusion of claims taking more than 84 days to complete from the departments’ measure has created a perverse incentive for Centrelink to drag out DSP applications in order to fudge its key performance marker (KPM) figures.

The Government needs to come clean on the extent to which DSP applications are being delayed.

This report only confirms what too many Australians who rely on the DSP already know – they are waiting many more months than the Government is willing to admit.

Over the past two years, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Liberal Government have cut and outsourced 2,500 Centrelink jobs.

Over that time, Australians are waiting longer and longer for their income support payments.

Income support is complex. This is why Labor has committed to boosting Centrelink with 1,200 permanent staff who are qualified and experienced to manage the complex circumstances facing income support recipients, including Australians with a disability.


Labor welcomes the Government’s latest backflip on its changes to the Disability Support Pension (DSP) for people leaving prison.
Advocates, people with disability and the Australian Labor Party had been calling for the Government to reverse its decision, announced in this year’s budget.
The Senate called on the Government to overturn its decision earlier this month and after sustained pressure, it backflipped on this budget thought bubble.
This latest backflip shows just how divided and dysfunctional this Government is.
The proposed measure was cruel and counterproductive, and would have put vulnerable people at risk of recidivism or homelessness upon exiting prison.


Despite the Government’s promises that NDIS planning processes would be improved, reports today confirm that people are still not able to see a printed copy of their draft plan before it is approved.

This leaves people without a clear understanding of what their plan will provide, until it is too late.

As a consequence, people are forced to request formal plan reviews – with it often taking months for simple errors and omissions to be corrected.

This problem has been going on for years.

People with disability, families, advocates, providers and Labor have repeatedly called for this simple problem to be fixed.

The Government has dropped the ball on the rollout of the NDIS and they have failed to listen.

As a result, the NDIS has become a bureaucratic wrangle for too many families. This is unacceptable.

The NDIS is changing lives, but people with disability and their families need to be put back at the heart of the Scheme.

Labor established the NDIS and a Labor Government will work every day to get it back on track.


The Government needs to guarantee its pension “proof-of-life” requirement won’t be another debacle.

The Government has had a long track record of messing up Centrelink programs – from the disastrous Robodebt to the blown out pension wait times.

The Government’s cuts and outsourcing of Centrelink jobs have taken their toll. There are serious questions about the Government’s ability to competently implement this new proof-of-life requirement.

Of course Labor does not think that the Age Pension should be paid to people who have died. That goes without saying.

But we don’t want a situation where pensioners are left without any income because of another government IT debacle.

Labor will review the details of this plan carefully.

The reality is Australians can’t trust the Abbott Turnbull Morrison Government with Centrelink and with the pension.


Labor is calling on the Government to conduct an urgent audit of NDIS fraud risks, after more reports that providers struck-off as Family Day Care operators have been approved as NDIS providers.
The Government needs to explain how it was possible for these operators to be rejected from one taxpayer funded program only to shift to another.
Particularly as this issues as been brought to the Government’s attention before.
At Senate Estimates in October, neither the Department of Social Services, the NDIA nor the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission could give a guarantee that operators found to have defrauded other Commonwealth programs were not being approved as NDIS providers.
This is completely unacceptable. The Government has dropped-the-ball on the NDIS rollout.
People relying on NDIS services deserve to know that registered services are legitimate and will provide quality support. And taxpayers must be protected.
Every dollar in the NDIS should be used to improve services and supports for people with disability – not siphoned off by fraudsters or dodgy operators.


Yesterday’s decision by the Catholic Church to leave it up to individual parts of the organisation to decide when to sign up to the National Redress Scheme is a cruel broken promise.
Just over five months ago, the Catholic Church made a clear commitment to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse:

“We are going to form a very simple – and we hope cost-effective – company that will enable the Catholic Church to respond as a single entity to the Redress Scheme.”

[Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of The Australian Bishops Conference, PM, 30 May 2018]

The Catholic Church has a complex structure  – and this decision will leave thousands of survivors waiting longer for justice.

People who were sexually abused as children now have no idea when the segment of the Catholic Church which is legally responsible will join the scheme.

Some people could be forced to wait for years, and others may die waiting.

This is utterly unacceptable.

Survivors have already waited too long for justice.

All institutions that have not already joined the Redress Scheme should do so immediately - they have a clear moral obligation not to delay.


The Government should not proceed with its counterproductive plan to change the Disability Support Pension (DSP) rules for people leaving prison.
This will put people with disability – who are particularly vulnerable upon leaving prison – at risk of recidivism, homelessness or social isolation.
DSP recipients who serve a prison sentence, can currently have their payments suspended for up to two years, without having to reapply for the DSP upon their release.
From 1 January 2019, the Government will force people to reapply after a 13 week suspension.
This proposed change is counterproductive. It is bad for individuals and bad for the community.
Particularly given the high risk that people will fall through the cracks as a consequence of the chronic delays in DSP application processing.
People with disability make up 18 per cent of the general population, but 30 per cent of people entering prison.
Yesterday, the Senate supported a motion moved by Shadow Minister for Disability and Carers Senator Carol Brown, calling on the Government to reverse this decision. 


Today is a day to acknowledge and hold up the achievements and contributions of people with disability.
The theme of this year’s celebrations is ‘empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’.
For the first time, people with disability are holding their own National Awards for Disability Leadership and these will be shown on a dedicated YouTube channel between 1 and 2.30 pm today.
The awards will hosted jointly by the Disability Leadership Institute, Disabled People’s Organisations Australia and the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
Viewers will be able to watch presenters from Alastair McEwin to Sue Salthouse, handing out awards across seven categories of achievement including the famous Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement.
You can also follow the conversation online using the social media hashtag #DisabilityAwards2018 or look for local events on the IDPWD website.
Shadow Minister for Disability and Carers Senator Carol Brown will watch the celebrations live from Melbourne Town Hall alongside disability advocates and event organisers, and encourages all who can to view the awards with friends, colleagues and family.
“It’s great to be joining people with disability, and their advocates, on this important day”, said Senator Carol Brown. 
Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney will watch the awards from Parliament in Canberra.
“People with disability want to take their place and to participate fully in all aspects of life, including in employment, it is economically sensible”, said Linda Burney.


A Shorten Labor Government will reverse the Liberals’ cuts to a program which helps women who have experienced domestic violence remain safely in their own home, and commit to a new 10 year plan for reducing violence against women and their children.
Labor will invest $18 million over three years to 2021-22 to ensure that Keeping Women Safe In Their Homes continues, after the Government confirmed it was cutting funding for the program.
This program provides practical help for women and their children in their homes, allowing them to live safely away from perpetrators through:

  • Expert safety assessments and safety planning;

  • Home safety upgrades and devices, such as new locks, alarms, cameras and safety phones;

  • Screening for bugs to ensure privacy; and

  • Supporting women in enforcing Apprehended Violence Orders.

Everyone deserves to feel safe in their home. Women should not have to choose between their home and their safety. Neither should their children.

Yet, this is not the case for many women who have left violent or abusive relationships. 

Women are more likely to experience violence from a man they know, often in their own home

Women should be able to end violent and abusive relationships as safely and as quickly as possible – this as an immediate and urgent priority and Labor is determined to match our words with practical measures like this.

A New 10-Year National Plan

Labor also recognises that cultural and structural change is imperative in preventing family violence in the long term.

This magnitude of change can only be brought about by strong and sustained leadership, at all levels. 

Labor will ensure that preventing family violence remains in the nation’s focus by developing a new 10-Year National Plan and pushing this important issue on the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) agenda.

A new National Plan will serve as a timely reminder of the complex and pervasive nature of family violence, and that we all have roles and responsibilities in its prevention – federal, state and local; government and non-government; families and communities.

The development of this plan will be guided by a National Plan Advisory Group, replacing the advisory panel axed by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government. 

It will feature and bring together the perspectives and energies of a diverse cross-section of the community – from academics and experts, those working in frontline services, to women with lived experience of domestic violence.

A Labor Government will begin work on a new National Plan with urgency.

Preventing family violence requires strong leadership and genuine commitment – Labor is determined to lead on this.