Calls mount for SA domestic violence royal commission

Pressure is building on the state government government to call a royal commission into domestic violence after four women were killed in one week, allegedly by men known to them.

Nov 30, 2023, updated Nov 30, 2023
A protest at state parliament after four women were killed in one week. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

A protest at state parliament after four women were killed in one week. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Crossbenchers and the opposition banded together in state parliament on Wednesday to back a motion demanding an urgent inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence.

While Labor has said it is open to establishing a royal commission, it claims it is prioritising enshrining into law reforms targeting coercive control and protecting victims.

Mary Leaker, general manager of domestic violence services peak body Embolden SA, commended the government’s efforts but said it was not a substitute for the whole-of-system reform needed.

“This is not an either or scenario,” she said.

“We need urgent action and we need a royal commission to ensure that we are investing where we need to invest for the most impact to keep women and children safe in our community.”

Attorney-General Kyam Maher reiterated the government would continue to focus on its suite of legislation but was open to medium and long-term solutions as well.

The motion’s co-sponsor, Greens MP Tammy Franks, said South Australia was “lagging the nation” on domestic violence protections and was far behind Victoria, which conducted its own royal commission following the murder of Luke Batty by his father in 2014.

“Right now, we are in the middle of a national domestic violence crisis and we have just seen four SA women murdered in a week,” she said.

“We are failing victims and survivors of domestic violence, and we need to target investment where it matters the most.

“We need to listen to women and centre them in a whole of government and a whole of society solution.”

SA-BEST MP Connie Bonaros and Liberal MP Michelle Lensink fought back tears as they pleaded for urgent action in the upper house.

“There’s only one thing that can help us turn this around and that is a royal commission,” Bonaros said.

“God forbid that in the meantime there’d be another woman killed because I don’t know what we are going to say to that woman’s family.”

Lensink said it was unacceptable that the government was waiting for Premier Peter Malinauskas to return from leave to address the issue.

The federal government on Saturday introduced more timely data reporting of the number of women killed by domestic or family violence to coincide with International Day for the Elimination of Violence.

More than 50 women have been have been killed by current or former partners so far this year, compared to 25 in 2020.

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