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Office for Women: national DV orders, gender diversity, DV advertising campaign

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Larissa Waters 27 May 2015

Senator WATERS: Thank you very much for coming along and congratulations on your appointments in your first estimates. On the national DVO process, who is driving that: is it you, A-G's or DSS?

Ms Bloomfield: It is a joint effort between the Commonwealth and relevant agencies within the Commonwealth, and state and territory governments. It is an action that was agreed by COAG, and we are working very closely with the federal government but also in close coordination with the states and territories.

Senator WATERS: Is there a lead agency in those three?

Ms Bloomfield: I would have to take that on notice. We coordinate—the Office for Women coordinates that action. The Attorney-General's Department would have a role in the Commonwealth government, but I am not sure about all of the various state departments.

Senator WATERS: That is okay. I am not so worried about the states; just about who in the federal zoo.

Ms Carroll: The normal process for COAG is that first ministers' departments are responsible. Because it is the Australian government, Prime Minister and Cabinet would have a lead role working with other departments like Attorney-General's, who might have primary carriage of the content. But, because it is a COAG process, certainly across Australia, first ministers' departments play a kind of coordinating role.

Senator CASH: But you are right: from the Commonwealth perspective, it is the Department of Social Services and the Attorney-General's Department in relation to the national DVO scheme.

Senator WATERS: PM&C—is that what you just said as well as Office for Women?

Ms Carroll: Office for Women, as part of Prime Minister and Cabinet, are part of the lead COAG role, and then there is the coordination across the Commonwealth.

Senator WATERS: Can I just clarify? Are you saying that PM&C that is not Office for Women also has a role or you are taking the lead for PM&C in coordinating DSS and A-G's? Are there three or four in the mix?

Senator Cash: The department of Indigenous affairs which sits within PM&C, you are saying, would not have a role.

Senator WATERS: I just want to know who has got a role. Have I got all of them—A-G's, DSS and Office for Women? Who else am I adding, if any? Is PM&C added in as a fourth or is that dealt with under Office for Women? That is what I am trying to establish.

Senator Cash: PM&C would be Office for Women. The term is used interchangeably.

Senator WATERS: Thank you. So just the three Commonwealth agencies?

Senator Cash: Yes. Office for Women is PM&C, so the term is obviously used interchangeably.

Senator WATERS: You are coordinating the process, you said. Are you having any input into the content?

Ms Bloomfield: To the extent that it is relevant, in terms of liaison with the Department of Social Services, with the Attorney-General's Department. PM&C has primary carriage in terms of the COAG process, but in terms of the actual content those other departments would have the lead.

Ms Wilkie: This also predates Ms Bloomfield's time in the department, but, yes, the Office for Women is also part of the executive committee run by CrimTrac, which is doing the prototype for the National DVO Information Sharing System, which is a core part of the National DVO Scheme, so, yes.

Senator WATERS: I had thought there was an agreement that model legislation would be considered at the April meeting. That April meeting then got deferred to May, and we had that last week, I think. Was there model or draft legislation put to that meeting?

Ms Wilkie: Not to the COAG meeting. I think you might be referring to the model framework going to the LCCSC committee—sorry; I cannot think of the spell-out of the acronym, but it is the legal committee that is a COAG committee. I would have to take on notice exactly when that meeting was held, but there has certainly been, in the course of this year already, information that has gone to that committee on the model framework.

Senator WATERS: It sounds like there are multiple committees. I am just interested in whether there is draft legislation yet.

Ms Wilkie: I will have to take that on notice.

Senator Cash: What was agreed by COAG was that they would agree the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme by the end of 2015, so the committees are currently looking at how you get the mirror legislation, which is separate to what CrimTrac is doing. It is parallel.

Senator WATERS: Yes. I am not focused on CrimTrac.

Senator Cash: Good.

Senator WATERS: So you are committed to having the legal framework in place by the end of 2015?

Senator Cash: Correct. That is the recognition of the DVO.

Senator WATERS: What does that mean? Do you mean actually having the legislation enacted in each state and territory that happens to be model national legislation? What are you considering 'delivering a legal framework' to actually mean?

Senator Cash: You literally would legally recognise—unless the officers are going to correct me—the DVO Scheme. So, for example—

Senator WATERS: Done and dusted, passed, and up and running?

Senator Cash: a Western Australian DVO would be recognised in New South Wales.

Senator WATERS: So finished, enacted, in place?

Senator Cash: Yes.

Senator WATERS: I come back to my earlier question: do we have draft legislation yet, as at now, given that the end of the year is approaching?

Ms Carroll: Just to make a minor correction: what I anticipate is that the model legislation will be completed but each of the jurisdictions will need to pass that legislation. While obviously people are hoping that all of this is in place by the end of the year, it would be normal that you would focus in on getting the model legislation but then all the parliaments will need to go through their processes and pass it.

Senator WATERS: Do we have draft model legislation yet?

Ms Carroll: I think Ms Wilkie said we will take that on notice.

Ms Wilkie: We will have to take that on notice.

Senator WATERS: Perhaps the minister might know the answer to that.

Senator Cash: LCCSC only met last Friday, so we will take it on notice to see what actually came out of the meeting for you.

Senator WATERS: Okay, because I understood that the ambition was to have that model draft legislation go to LCCSC in April, and we are now almost at the end of May. Do you really have to take that on notice because you do not know if there is draft model legislation?

Senator Cash: My understanding was that the agreement by COAG was that, by the end of 2015, there would be the agreement for the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme, and that is what is currently being worked through.

Senator WATERS: I understand the broad commitment about the end of the year, but there was an agreement with the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council, LCCSC, that there would be model legislation considered at the April meeting. That meeting did not happen in April; it happened in May. You said, in fact, that it happened last Friday—

Senator Cash: My understanding is that it was last Friday

Senator WATERS: Did they consider draft model legislation?

Senator Cash: I would need to take that on notice for you.

Senator WATERS: Nobody knows; we will find that later; great.

Senator McKENZIE: That is actually not correct—that nobody knows.

Senator WATERS: Well, none of these people know. I would like to know.

Senator Cash: It might be that you need to ask the Attorney-General's Department what actually occurred there.

Senator WATERS: Okay. That is useful. I will ask them, then.

Senator Cash: If you could ask the Attorney-General's Department.

Senator WATERS: Okay, I will ask them then. I do not care who tells me; I just want an answer.

Senator MOORE: Who was at the meeting? Was anyone from the Office for Women at the meeting last night?

Ms Carroll: It would not be normal for—

Senator MOORE: That was not my question. Was anyone at the meeting?

Ms Carroll: No.

Senator WATERS: On a different matter now: how many submissions or briefings has the Office for Women provided to the PM's office in the past 12 months?

Ms Wilkie: I would have to take that on notice.

Senator WATERS: Thank you. Do you have a ballpark estimation, that I will not rely on, until I get your onnotice response?

Senator Cash: That is something the officers would have to take on notice.

Ms Wilkie: I really would not want to—

Senator WATERS: No idea? Okay. Moving to the PPL change that is proposed in the budget, which Senator Moore was asking sensibly about: prior to that change being included in the budget, I am interested in which peak or industry bodies or non-government organisations the Office for Women consulted in relation to that proposed change.

Ms Carroll: It is not normal for departments, unless it is part of the cabinet process, for consultation to occur about particular measures in the budget, and obviously, as we have just traversed, the Office for Women's role is to provide advice and it was participating, as part of PM&C, in a range of meetings, interdepartmental committees et cetera, in providing advice.

Senator WATERS: So the answer to that is 'none'—you did not do any consultation, because that is not normal.

Senator Cash: I do not think that was the answer of the official.

Senator WATERS: I do not want to verbal you. I am genuinely seeking to understand that—

Senator McKenzie interjecting—

Senator WATERS: Excuse me, Senator McKenzie; I am trying to understand what they are saying.

CHAIR: Ignore the interjections.

Senator WATERS: I will try to.

CHAIR: That is the easiest way, Senator Waters. And if we wait for the minister to answer—

Senator Cash: Officials obviously cannot comment on the nature of the advice, and that would include any consultations undertaken.

Senator WATERS: I took you to be saying it was not normal for you to do that work, as opposed to: you cannot tell me because that is advice to the minister.

Ms Carroll: It would not be normal unless the government had specifically asked, on a budget measure, to be going out and doing kind of external consultations.

Senator WATERS: And I am not allowed to ask if they did ask you to do that—is that right?

Ms Carroll: Any advice that we went and privately sought is advice to government.

Senator WATERS: Moving on to the workforce gender diversity requirements that need to be met by companies when they seek government tenders—

Senator Cash: Is it WGEA—the Workforce Gender Equality Agency?

Senator WATERS: I have questions for them as well, when they are here later in the week, but what role does Office for Women play, if any, in the administration of those guidelines?

Ms Wilkie: Just to clarify: do you mean the—

Senator WATERS: Government procurement rules.

Ms Wilkie: gender equality requirements that are part of the procurement guidelines?

Senator WATERS: Yes.

Ms Wilkie: Those are the responsibility of the Department of Finance.

Senator WATERS: So you do not have a role in their formulation or administration—

Ms Wilkie: No.

Senator WATERS: or review? It is nothing to do with you whatsoever?

Ms Wilkie: We would expect to be consulted if they were going to undertake a review of them, but that would be in the general course of Prime Minister and Cabinet being consulted in that sort of review as part of the general course of events.

Senator WATERS: The normal process, even.

Ms Carroll: Because their operation occurs within the Department of Finance, the Office for Women would not normally participate in those operational—

Senator WATERS: Thank you. I will take that up with them. In relation to the money that was announced from the recent COAG meeting—the $30 million for the national campaign: is that the awareness raising campaign that you announced?

Senator Cash: Correct—the national awareness raising campaign coming out of COAG; $30 million.

Senator WATERS: Is there any more detail around the shape of that campaign as yet?

Senator Cash: I would refer to DSS or—

Ms Carroll: As to the campaign, we are still in consultation and discussions with the state and territory governments around the shape of that campaign.

Senator WATERS: But—and correct me if I am wrong—my recollection was that it was a social media targeted campaign for—

Senator Cash: Not necessarily. Those are the consultations that are going to be looked at. What is the best form of campaign—

Senator WATERS: To reach that target—

Senator Cash: given where technology is in 2015, as opposed to where it has previously been?

Senator WATERS: Did the Office for Women provide input into that COAG communique?

Ms Wilkie: Yes.

Senator WATERS: Has there been any modelling done, either by your office or that you are aware of, about the projected increase on demand for services as a result of increased awareness?

Ms Wilkie: You would need to ask the Department of Social Services but, yes, I am aware that they have commenced looking at that. I am also aware that some of the states and territories have raised that issue with us as well and it may be that they have done some analysis around that, but certainly at the Commonwealth level that question is best directed to DSS.

Senator Cash: Just on the campaign, in terms of the national awareness raising, it is probably better to say 'national awareness campaign.' Some of the consultations will be going to whether it is actually awareness that you want to raise or should the campaign be better focused on, say, primary prevention? Again, that is part of the consultations that are currently available.

Senator WATERS: I see. I did not realise it was such a broad consultation.

Senator Cash: Yes, I know it is national awareness raising, but possibly national awareness campaign is a better way to actually state what the campaign will be and whether the focus is going to be, for example, on primary prevention. That is the nature of the consultations.

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