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Kerrynne Liddle urges more action to tackle family and domestic violence in the NT

Giovanni Torre -

Indigenous senator Kerrynne Liddle has renewed her call for more action to combat domestic and family violence in the Northern Territory.

Senator Liddle, the federal Opposition spokesperson for Child Protection and Prevention of Family Violence, said on Thursday that 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," she said.

Senator Liddle cited NT Police data showing Darwin recorded "the worst monthly rate of domestic abuse in at least a decade" while there was a 23 per cent increase in the Territory in the 12 months to October 31.

"In the same 12 months, family violence rose 40 per cent in Katherine, 13.5 per cent in Alice Springs and 29 per cent 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," she said.

The senator noted that the National Plan to End Violence against Women and their Children seeks to end violence against women and children within one generation and Close The Gap Target 13 aims to reduce the rate by at least 50 per cent, with progress towards zero.

She was critical of the NT government's decision to end alcohol restrictions in 2022, which was reversed "only after pressure from the Albanese government"

"It is the NT that is advising where, how and when the money from the Commonwealth is spent," Senator Liddle said.

"The statistics have not yet returned to what they were (before restrictions ended) – 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. If there is no improvement in the NT, there is little hope for getting anywhere close to achieving the ambitious nationally agreed targets, and more money will be demanded for no tangible benefit for locals."

Senator Liddle noted that on December 14 last year, she 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 am yet to receive a response".

"The states and territories need to be more accountable while the Commonwealth also needs to hold them to account. 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," she said.

"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."

"I believe that Northern Territory community ingenuity will find ways to do much more in prevention and early intervention but it has to be backed-in by government action," Senator Liddle said.

"The Northern Territory must not be heading to 2025 in the same way it clocked over to 2024."

Also on Thursday, the federal government announced that through the government's A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia plan, Aboriginal Hostels Limited and Women's Safety Services of Central Australia (WoSSCA) will each receive multi-million dollar allocations to support central Australian families dealing with violence.

Federal Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth told National Indigenous Times that the Albanese government "recognises the urgency to address family, domestic and sexual violence and we, along with the NT Government and all other jurisdictions, are committed to ending it in one generation".

"In our first two Budgets, we have made a record investment of $2.3 billion in women's safety and just this morning we announced an additional $7.6 million boost to domestic violence support and temporary accommodation in Central Australia to support women and children," she said.

"We will continue to work closely with the NT Government, community leaders and supporting frontline organisations to ensure the agreed Action Plans under the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032 deliver the change we know is needed. This includes the six measurable and national level targets. But we can't do this alone. Ending violence against women and children is everybody's responsibility and everybody's business. We all have a role to play in violence prevention."

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