Alcohol is involved in up to 65 per cent of family violence incidents reported to police and up to 47 per cent of child abuse cases in Australia. Alcohol was also consumed by the perpetrator in more than a third of intimate partner homicides.
Yet to date, government plans have either not adequately acknowledged alcohol’s involvement in family violence, or have failed to embrace strategies to address the issue.
Launching a new national plan to prevent alcohol-related family violence, at Parliament House in Canberra, Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year and Founder of the Luke Batty Foundation, told the Prime Minister that Australia cannot afford to wait decades for generational change and instead must act now.
For 18 months I have been campaigning to ensure that victims of family violence receive the respect, safety and support that they deserve. But if, as a nation we are determined to seriously address family violence, then prevention must be our ultimate goal.
We must recognise that there is not, and can never be an acceptable level of family violence. That this is not a symptom merely to be treated, but in fact a disease that must be eradicated.
Which is why, in recent months, I have challenged national, state and territory leaders to move beyond lip service and commit to real action.
To commit to additional support and funding, instead of budget cuts that give with one hand and take with the other;
To commit to sound policy measures that will address the problem face on, and recognise that the scourge of family violence can be addressed;
And to accept that we must translate the outrage and increased awareness of this issue into decisive action that embraces effective solutions.
I am encouraged by the work of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), and its ongoing efforts to ensure that this knowledge is translated into effective policy solutions.
To date, the role of alcohol has not been adequately recognised or addressed at either a national or state level.
Implementing actions that address alcohol will greatly contribute to preventing and reducing family violence.
For change to happen we need the following.
Firstly we need recognition and acceptance from the general public, the media and our political leaders. Today I’ve spoken of how I have witnessed in just the last year the growing awareness and interest in speaking out about family violence.
Secondly we need solutions. Solutions have too often been missing from the debate over the last twelve months. Sound, polished and evidence-based measures; endorsed by leaders across and beyond the domestic violence sector are what’s needed.
Importantly, the involvement of alcohol and its impact on family violence must be acknowledged and must be addressed. In FARE’s National Framework, we have such a solution.
Finally we need those in power to move beyond slogans and rhetoric and to implement solutions such as the National Framework being launched this morning. It is time for determined and informed action.
Launch of the National framework for action to prevent alcohol-related family violence (abridged extract)
Wednesday 17 June 2015, Parliament House, Canberra