Letter to the Editor
What the Northern Territory is doing to reduce domestic and family violence isn’t working and 2024 must not, for locals, be just another year of the same.
There are more children in out-of-home care, more injured visiting hospitals and more perpetrators in jail and many on repeat cycle.
Unfortunately for everyone, the numbers just keep going up.
The latest NT Police data show a 23% per cent increase in the Territory in the 12 months to October 31, 13.5% in Alice Springs and 29% in Tennant Creek.
Eighty-one women have been killed by a current or former partner in the Northern Territory since 2000. Seventy-six of them were Aboriginal.
The NT Government was lost in ideology when it ended alcohol restrictions in 2022 and only after pressure from the Albanese Government reinstated them and it is the NT that is advising where, how and when the money from the Commonwealth is spent.
The statistics have not yet returned to what they were then – let alone improved with the unprecedented increase in funding for community safety and domestic and family violence.
That is why the Federal Coalition will continue to push for an enquiry into how decisions are made so that funding ends for programs not delivering maximum outcomes and which are not evidence based, peer reviewed or where governance is questionable.
Senator Nampijinpa Price and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton last April stood at the foot of Anzac Hill seeking a Royal Commission to understand the extent and a way forward for addressing Indigenous child sexual abuse in the NT.
There is still no answer and outcomes are not improving.
And on December 14 last year, I wrote to the NT Minister for the Prevention of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Kate Worden for an update on the Territory’s employment of the 20 frontline service workers that were promised for the sector by the Albanese Government in October 2022 – but I’m yet to receive a response.
Meanwhile, the challenge is for organisations, businesses, sports codes, individuals and communities to commit to zero tolerance of violence in all its forms and send that message loud and clear.
I say mandate criminal history checks and stop board members, elected officials and those in leadership roles with recent or current police charges or convictions from standing as role models at the heads of these organisations.
More money is not needed to put an advert in every organisation’s newsletter, messages on every toilet door and in every workplace about how to seek help nor to make a statement of commitment at the start of every event. These actions should be routine.
For every day an audit is not a priority for funding for services for the most vulnerable in the area of domestic and family with its devastating human, social and economic toll then more cases go unreported, more offenders go unpunished and more victims will not get the very best of help they so desperately need.
The Northern Territory must not be heading to 2025 in the same way it clocked over to 2024.
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Kerrynne Liddle, Senator for South Australia