NSW Premier Mike Baird’s appointment of Pru Goward as Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault is a welcome move.
Clearly there is growing pressure on policymakers to do more to address domestic violence — 26 Australian women have died at the hands of partners or ex-partners this year alone. Violence against women has been treated as a lower-order issue for too long. That is now changing — the process by which we as a society “normalise” gender-based violence and accept it as somehow natural is finally under challenge.
In NSW, violent and non-violent crime rates have fallen substantially over the last decade, with two exceptions: domestic assault and sexual assault. Reports of both have grown strongly in recent years, reflecting a greater willingness by survivors of this violence to report it. But this is only the first of many steps in seriously addressing it.
That process will require greater resources — and having a minister specifically responsible for the issue increases the chances that violence against women will receive appropriate consideration. Goward’s appointment also entails Baird’s greater willingness to accept responsibility for the issue; it will now be politically intolerable for domestic violence to be perceived as worsening given the government’s commitment to it.
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Baird has established a precedent that other governments should follow.
Have a great Easter break — we will be back in your inboxes on Tuesday. The Crikey team.