Royal Commission into domestic violence begins

The South Australian Royal Commission into Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence has officially launched, with the aim of tackling a social “scourge”.

Jul 01, 2024, updated Jul 01, 2024
Premier Peter Malinauskas with Natasha Stott Despoja, who will helm the Royal Commission into Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily.

Premier Peter Malinauskas with Natasha Stott Despoja, who will helm the Royal Commission into Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily.

The commission, led by former Australian Democrats leader Natasha Stott Despoja, will examine four themes: prevention, early intervention, response, recovery and healing.

Stott Despoja will begin statewide consultations this month, including visits to regional and metropolitan community sites.

An issues paper, published today, outlines the themes and requests the public make written submissions. An expert advisory panel will be established, with public hearings to take place in November and December.

The Royal Commission was announced in December 2023, with Stott Despoja announced as the Commissioner in March this year.

Stott Despoja said today that violence against women was a “national emergency”.

“The reality is, the single biggest risk factor for being a victim of domestic family or sexual violence in Australia today is being female,” she said.

“For me, the high rates of violence against Aboriginal women are our nation’s shame.

“I intend to walk with, in partnership with, Aboriginal women and men and children in order to hear not only their lived experience, but their expertise and advice as to how we can particularly eradicate this scourge in their communities.”

Minister Katrine Hildyard at a rally in December calling for a Royal Commission into violence against women. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

The hospitalisation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women due to family and domestic violence is 33 times higher than for non-Aboriginal women.

April crime statistics, released by the SA Police last week, showed a 13 per cent increase in family and domestic abuse-related offences in the 12 months leading to the release.

These statistics came six months after the first Domestic Violence Prevention and Recovery Hub was opened in Adelaide.

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One in five women has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15, compared to one in 16 men.

Stott Despoja said the Royal Commission would be “forward facing”.

“It’s not necessarily about investigating cases, or people, or agencies. It’s about working out how we can make things better,” she said.

“In a year I’m confident that we will have meaningful constructive ideas for transformative change.”

Premier Peter Malinauskas said South Australia had an aspiration for a “wholesome, whole of government approach” to domestic and family violence.

“It is a scourge and we cannot tolerate it as a society… we anticipate this Royal Commission will set out a framework for how our state can best intervene,” Malinauskas said.

Katrine Hildyard, Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence, said the Royal Commission would “look deeply into every aspect of our system”.

“It will look right across every aspect of government about what we can improve, what more can be done to prevent and eradicate domestic family and sexual violence,” she said.

Public submissions to the Royal Commission’s Issues Paper open on July 5 and close on August 16.

If you have been impacted by domestic, family or sexual violence you can call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can call 13 YARN on 13 92 76 for free and confidential support.

Men in South Australia concerned about their behaviour can contact Don’t Become That Man on 1300 243 413 or the national Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.

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