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Domestic and Family Violence Speech

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (11:33): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on this important motion on domestic violence raised by my good friend and colleague the honourable member for Dunkley. I congratulate every member who has spoken on this issue. The issues around women’s safety and domestic violence are well known to most in this place. As a White Ribbon ambassador, I have stood here on several occasions and talked about some of the horrifying numbers that summarise the extent of this problem. Every week one woman is killed as a result of intimate partner violence. One in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence and one in four children has been exposed to domestic violence. This is a problem that strikes at the core of our nation.

The Turnbull government are unequivocal in our position that domestic violence is absolutely unacceptable, and we are implementing measures to prevent and respond to this matter as a key priority. We are currently providing over half a billion dollars to frontline services to support vulnerable Australian, including survivors of domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Order Scheme will ensure the protection of survivors through an automatic national registration of offenders rather than the current state-by-state system. The government has also announced a $100 million Women’s Safety Package, which will be a national pilot initiative trialling 12 specialist domestic violence units and four health-justice partnerships.

Points 4 and 5 of the motion refer to the role of technology in violence against women. This can come in the form of applications used by perpetrators used to track and stalk their victims or other ways to facilitate their abuse. However, as is often the case, technology can also have its golden edge and offer positive opportunities for the protection of women and the deterrence of violence. There is a company based in my electorate of Bennelong who seem to have perfected this technology. A little company by the name of 3M. We are touching and are surrounded by products of 3M right here in this place right now. Many people around the world know this global science innovation company as the inventor of the humble Post-It note. Yet, as someone who has been fortunate enough to tour the 3M innovation centre in North Ryde on multiple occasions, I can verify that they make much more than revolutionary stationery products. 3M products can be found on aeroplanes, dusty outback road signs and even in surgery on the human body.

Last year I was advised by 3M of their latest breakthrough: the bilateral electronic monitoring device for domestic violence prevention. This is a GPS based system that empowers victims of violence to go back to their normal lives without the previous threats that hung over them. The technology operates by continually verifying the location of both the aggressor and the survivor and raises an alert when they come within the proximity of each other. This occurs in several stages ranging form an amber alert at several kilometres, to a red alert at 100 metres and an imminent danger alert in the immediate vicinity. The alerts are received at a monitoring centre, and by the survivor, to give time to avoid contact and get to a safe location. The device also features a panic button in case another aggressor or non-monitored threat appears. This technology has been proven successful in Europe and South America. In Spain 3,300 pairs of devices have been dispensed leading to zero fatalities since the start of the program in 2009.

Earlier today I met with two gentlemen—and I do mean ‘gentle-men’—from 3M leading this initiative, Phil Scott and Richard Lord. Richard has over 20 years experience at the frontline of this issue as a former New South Wales police officer. These gents were clearly passionate about the possibility inherent in this technology and how it could be used to change and perhaps save the lives of thousands of Australian women. Richard, who was stationed in the eastern suburbs, which is one of the most diverse areas of Sydney, told me that the last situation that he was engaged in resulted in the death of a women from Point Piper—the most expensive area of Sydney. I am planning to host the Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Women for a tour of the 3M innovation centre in Bennelong to see firsthand the opportunity presented by this technological breakthrough. I extend that offer to yourself and every member of this House, and I look forward to the day.