New Government Action Plans include concrete steps and targets to end gender-based violence

By Leanne Collingburn / 23 August 2023
5 min.

On the 16 August 2023, the Federal Labor Government released two Action Plans under the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 (The National Plan). The First Action Plan 2023-2027 (First Action Plan) and the dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan.

The National Plan is a joint state, territory and Australian government initiative that aims to end gendered violence within a single generation. Set to operate over the next 10 years, the National Plan will touch all aspects of society, with an emphasis on building reliable and effective systems and changing community attitudes. 

The First Action Plan and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan will operate alongside each other to reduce, and ultimately end, family, domestic and sexual violence in communities across Australia. 

Partner and Head of Pro Bono, Leanne Collingburn and Legal Assistant and Law Student, Tom Kelman discuss.

First Action Plan

The First Action Plan is underpinned by the Theory of Change and Outcomes Framework to ensure actions and activities undertaken will result in measurable change and set the foundation for ending gender-based violence in one generation. The First Action Plan establishes the scope, activities and responsibilities that will be adopted within the first five years of the National Plan, including the implementation of key actions: 

  • Action 1: Advancing gender equality.
  • Action 2: Improving the national evidence base by creating consistent terminology, monitoring and evaluation frameworks.
  • Action 3: Increasing and strengthening mainstream and specialist workforces.
  • Action 4: Building services and systems that have the capacity and expertise to support victim-survivors.
  • Action 5: Hold perpetrators of domestic violence to account.
  • Action 6: Prevent and address sexual violence and harassment.
  • Action 7: Work with First Nations peoples to ensure policies and services are culturally competent and align with the needs of the community.
  • Action 8: Develop age-appropriate programs that children and young people can access.
  • Action 9: Improve police responses and the capability of the justice system to support victim-survivors in a culturally appropriate and trauma-informed manner.
  • Action 10: Improve access to short-term, medium and long-term housing for women and children experiencing violence.

The First Action Plan 2023-2027 Activities Addendum (Activities Addendum) provides a detailed breakdown of the activities that each jurisdiction will undertake to achieve the 10 actions, and the costs associated with doing so. The activities have significant resources dedicated to their delivery, with $2.3 billion being allocated nationwide to support the delivery of the projects detailed within. This includes $194 million being put towards First Nations initiatives aimed at promoting family safety and removing barriers for First Nations women and children seeking support. The Activities Addendum will be a ‘living’ document and will be revisited on an annual basis to ensure it remains relevant and effective.

Progress under the First Action Plan will be monitored through a performance measurement plan, which is expected to be in place in early 2024. As a starting point, six national-level meaningful and measurable targets have been developed to measure progress against:

  1. Female intimate partner homicide;
  2. Knowledge of behaviours that constitute family, domestic and sexual violence;
  3. Community attitudes towards:
  4. Violence against women;
  5. Rejecting gender inequality; and
  6. Rejecting sexual violence.

Closing the Gap Target 13 (By 2031, the rate of all forms of family violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children is reduced by at least 50 %, as progress towards zero).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan 

As the first dedicated plan to reduce violence against women and children in First Nations communities, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan was developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and with the purpose of achieving two critical outcomes:

  1. To address current safety needs as identified by examining the existing evidence base and built on through the consultation process; and
  2. (With a three-year span), to build the foundations for long-term change. 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan recognises that the causes of domestic and family violence are different for First Nations communities, and a consequence of colonialism, and subsequent government regimes of assimilation, forced separation of children from their families and institutionalisation and that questions of intergenerational trauma, distrust of first responders and geographical remoteness need to be overcome to make meaningful and lasting change.  

As a community that suffers from disproportionately high levels of violence, the purpose built Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan sets the following vision and goal:

  • Vision: Our people no matter where they live, work and play are culturally safe and strong and live free from violence. 
  • Goal: By 2031, the rate of all forms of family violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children is reduced by at least 50% as progress towards zero. 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan identifies five areas where reform is necessary and sets out the actions required, timeframe for delivery and governments and organisations responsible. These areas are:

  • Reform Area One: Voice, self-determination and agency.
  • Reform Area Two: Strength, resilience and therapeutic healing.
  • Reform Area Three: Reform institutions and systems.
  • Reform Area Four: Evidence and data eco-systems.
  • Reform Area Five: Inclusion and intersectionality.

The activities and actions set out in these plans are integral to the success of the National Plan and will shape both state and federal policy around domestic and family violence over the next decade. 

For more information about domestic and family violence reforms, including our coercive control reform tracker, see our knowledge centre or get in touch with our Pro Bono practice, Family law and Elder law teams. 

23 August 2023
Key Contacts
Leanne Collingburn
Leanne is Head of Pro Bono at HopgoodGanim Lawyers.

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