AUTHORITIES will crack down on forced marriages, female genital mutilation and the abuse of migrant spouses under a new national plan to stop violence against women.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott will today launch the $100 million Second Action Plan to stop domestic violence, which will also see state and territory governments commit to work on implementing a national scheme for domestic violence orders.
The scheme means perpetrators of domestic abuse would no longer be able to flee across state borders to escape court sanctions, and women who move interstate would still be protected from violent partners.
The plan is the second phase of a 12-year strategy to curb violence against women and their children.
Currently one in three Australian women experience physical violence, and domestic abuse will cost the national economy more than $15.5 billion a year by 2021 unless stronger action is taken.
“As a husband, a father and as a brother, I believe it is the responsibility for all of us to stand against domestic and family violence,” Mr Abbott told News Corp.
“The Second Action Plan is about improving what we already do in terms of prevention, action and support. It contains practical actions that are critical to improve women's safety.”
The plan will specifically target abuse perpetrated against women with a disability, women from culturally diverse backgrounds, and Indigenous women who are 31 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence related assaults.
Assistant Minister for Women Michaelia Cash said migrant women are often not aware of their rights in Australia, particularly in relation to forced or underage marriage and female genital mutilation.
“This is where the Second Action Plan steps in,” Senator Cash said.
“Forced and underage marriages are not tolerated in Australia, the same applies to the abhorrent practice of Female Genital Mutilation” she said.
“Australians were shocked earlier this year with the news that right in our backyard, a 12 year old girl was allegedly married off to a 26 year old man.”
The plan will mean foreign-born spouses who come to Australia on marriage visas will receive additional support. Their husbands or fiancés will have to provide authorities with additional information, and new material will be developed to inform these women about essential services and emergency contacts in Australia.
“We must be aware that sadly, some women coming to our country are not afforded the same rights at home and we must as a Government ensure they are equipped with the knowledge they need to prevent being subjected to violence and abuse,” Senator Cash said.
The long-awaited plan will also commit states and territories to work with the Commonwealth to streamline information sharing and establish national standards for perpetrator intervention.
It says it is “highly desirable” that state-based domestic violence orders be nationalised.
Northern Territory Minister Bess Price, who will attend today's launch, said she is pleased the Second Action Plan has specific initiatives to deal with violence against Indigenous women.
“I have been a victim as well, and I know how it is, and I want to make sure the future is better for women and their families and that help is provided so women can feel safe.”