23 Jun 2020

Domestic violence strategy a 'first step' for Brisbane City Council

A domestic violence strategy has been adopted by Brisbane City Council amid criticism from opposition councilors that the document does not go far enough.

The strategy was first called for last year by deputy opposition leader Kara Cook and was unanimously supported at the time.

The draft document was submitted to the council for approval at Tuesday's meeting, and while its intent and priorities were endorsed by the council, Cr Cook (Morningside) and independent councilor Nicole Johnston (Tennyson) questioned its impact.

LNP councilor Fiona Cunningham (Coorparoo) welcomed the strategy, speaking about the devastating consequences of the Hannah Clarke murders on her community.

Cr Cunningham said the tragedy would "never make sense" and the violence leading up to it a "sinister" force hidden within quiet suburban streets.

"... What do you do, how do you respond, when your community is dealt with such a horrific blow?" Cr Cunningham said.

"In an instant, your role as a local councilor is much more than just roads, rates, and rubbish. It's a role that supports, it's a role that cares, it's a role that above all else puts community first."

Cr Cunningham said it was the council's role to set an example, and statistics demonstrated that domestic violence was an issue for the council's employees and its communities.

She said the strategy identified ways to raise awareness and partner with organizations while noting the state government "remains the lead agency" while the council raised awareness and educated the community.

Cr Cook told the council she was pleased to see the document in council and thanked the LNP for taking a bipartisan approach in developing the strategy.

"This document represents an important first step towards council taking a proactive approach to eliminating violence in our city and making clear it would not be tolerated," she said.

Cr Cook while the strategy was fully supported by Labor, some "stronger language" on taking action was removed from the draft document that she believed should have been kept, including statistics on the number of women killed each week in Australia as a result of domestic violence.

"I raise this point as this was one key fact that was removed from the final strategy document," she said.

"It was originally featured prominently on the front page in bold on the draft document. Other stronger language in the document was similarly removed, such as the use of the word 'condemn'."

The word 'prevention' was also removed from the document title, she said, which "should never have been removed from the title".

Cr Johnston also questioned why the Women's Legal Service Queensland was excluded from the list of support services listed in the document.

"Council should develop proper partnerships through services and funding to support key domestic violence prevention organizations in Brisbane, and establish objectives that can collaboratively be developed," Cr Johnston said.

"This document needs to be more than marketing platitudes or it will be a lost opportunity for the council and our city."

Finance and administration committee chairman Adam Allan agreed the strategy was a "starting point" and said the process of developing the document involved consultation with more than 20 organizations as well as councilors.

He said the state government's prevention strategy document was a chief influence in the council's development of its strategy and it was on the majority the role of the state to manage domestic violence response strategies.

Cr Allan said the decision to remove some words from the document was made after consultation, and the Women's' Legal Service had been contacted during the strategy development.

SOURCE: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/domestic-violence-strategy-a-first-step-for-brisbane-city-council-20200526-p54wll.html


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