Central Victorian advocates are dismayed a Senate inquiry into domestic violence has wrapped up three months early, with no input from victims and survivors, nor those working in the sector.
The Senate referred an inquiry to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Reference Committee in February, following the murders of Brisbane woman Hannah Clarke and her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey at the hands of their husband and father, Rowan Baxter.
The committee held no public hearings nor called for public submissions.
The committee was tasked with looking at measures needed to protect women and their children; responses to domestic violence across the country; and how governments could contribute to the changes needed to eliminate such violence, among other terms of reference.
Centre for Non-Violence chief executive officer, Margaret Augerinos, said the resulting report did not advance knowledge of the drivers of domestic violence, offered no advice on what the government and community needed to do, did not explore the systematic failures that led to the deaths of Ms Clarke and her children, nor look at responses to domestic violence.
"It was an opportunity to explore at systemic level the voices of women and children with lived experience," Ms Augerinos said.
"It was also an opportunity to listen to advocates, and how working to prevent family violence can be informed through that lens.
"Specialist women's services and peaks across the country have very clear views about what and how change needs to happen, and for that not to have been included is a missed opportunity."
Women's Health Loddon Mallee executive officer Tricia Currie also described the inquiry's failure to take submissions or hold consultations as a missed opportunity to hear from women and learn about experiences of family violence.
Ms Currie said she thought the inquiry would have had particular relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic, as times of disruption saw family violence escalate.
In its report, delivered this week, the committee said it "formed the view that conducting another lengthy, broad-ranging public inquiry into domestic and family violence in Australia at this time would be of limited value".
It said such an inquiry would divert resources from frontline services and primary prevention.
The committee concluded it was time for governments to create a new national plan to reduce violence against women and children, building on an earlier plan.
But Senator Rex Patrick, who brought the motion in Senate that resulted in the inquiry, said the committee had failed itself, the public, Ms Clarke and her children.
"There was work to be done - but the committee did not do it," Senator Patrick wrote in his dissenting report.
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