Hon Pru Goward, MP Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault discussed her role and plans for this newly created portfolio with The Indian Telegraph’s chief correspondent Vish Viswanathan.
Vish Viswanathan: Congratulations on your appointment, how do you feel about this portfolio?
Pru Gower: I welcome the opportunity this role presents, to highlight the importance of this issue in New South Wales. It will also enable the NSW Government to strengthen strategic partnerships across government sectors and the broader community in addressing domestic and family violence.
VV: What are the major challenges and chronic issues relating to domestic violence in NSW?
PG: Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds experience additional barriers to disclosing and seeking assistance in domestic violence situations. These additional barriers include a lack of English language which results in social isolation and impeding access to information and services available; lack of financial independence; strong cultural beliefs that reinforce gender inequality (i.e. male superiority) and condone violence against women, and discourage women from separation and divorce; and the lack of understanding of domestic violence, their rights and the support services available to assist them.
VV: Growing alcohol addiction in youth, complex multicultural issues, increasing population, the high cost of living – could these factors aggravate the DV issue?
PG: There is growing evidence that a number of factors may contribute to the prevalence of domestic and family violence including drug and alcohol consumption, gambling, poverty and financial stress.
It is important to reinforce that domestic and family violence is a crime and is unacceptable in any circumstance, and that that it occurs across socio-economic and cultural boundaries.
VV: How can the progressive Indian community contribute to NSW government initiatives on DV or issues related to women?
PG: I encourage leaders within the Indian community in New South Wales to take a stand against domestic and family violence and assist to raise awareness about this issue in your community.
Since language may be a barrier, visual campaigns and pledges in community languages may be effective. Publicising information in community newsletters, community events, and through various media outlets about the negative impact of domestic violence, the relevant laws against it as well as how to seek help and access support will also be helpful.
VV: Prevention or early intervention hasn’t seemed to have made an impact in many DV cases; how can this issue be addressed?
PG: Preventing domestic and family violence requires a shift in broader social attitudes about the roles of men and women. Prevention also involves working to change the behaviour of perpetrators and undertaking early intervention in communities that are more vulnerable.
The NSW Government is currently implementing ‘It Stops Here: Standing together to end domestic and family violence in NSW’. This is a whole of government response focused on prevention, a stronger criminal justice response, new approaches to support victims, and building the capacity of the workforce to respond more effectively to incidents of domestic and family violence.
The NSW Government is also introducing a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme that will enable people to find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence offending. This Scheme is designed to prevent domestic violence from occurring, and will allow people to make informed decisions about their relationship and seek help if they need it. More information about this scheme is at www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au.
The NSW Government has routine screening for all women presenting to antenatal and early childhood health services to identify and respond to victims of domestic and family violence.