NATIONAL: Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children
On 26 July 2013, the Australian and Victorian governments launched the Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children. The Foundation will endeavour to bring about cultural and attitudinal change to prevent domestic violence against women and children. The Australian Government is providing $1 million a year funding for the operation of the Foundation. 
While this initiative is commendable for its efforts in raising the profile of this issue, the government must seek to further prioritise the total elimination of all forms of violence against children and women through greater legislation as well as community-based initiatives.
NATIONAL: Progress on National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children
The progress report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) released in May 2013 identifies a number of actions and initiatives that have been undertaken at the national and state level to address violence against women and children. 
The CRC, in its Concluding Observations, recommended that Australia take measures to ensure the factors contributing to the high levels of violence among Aboriginal women and children are well understood and addressed in national and state/territory plans. Indeed, Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised by domestic violence than non-Indigenous women.  The National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children aims to reduce violence against Aboriginal children and women by fostering the leadership of Indigenous women within their communities and the wider Australian society. It aims to build community capacity at the local level and improve access to appropriate services. 
The progress report to the COAG on the National Plan identified a number of actions that had been undertaken to address the issue of Indigenous domestic violence in particular, as well as other forms of violence, including:
- ‘The Line – Respect Each Other campaign’ which provides resources to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, teachers and communities in order to promote healthy and respectful relationships.  This forms a part of The Line campaign which seeks to teach young people what is acceptable in a relationship;
- Plans to address alcohol and substance abuse, including the $20 million project ‘Breaking the Cycle’, which provides support to Indigenous communities to develop substance abuse management plans and the $75.6 million ‘Tackling Alcohol Abuse’ program, which works with Aboriginal communities to reduce alcohol related harm; 
- Establishment of the National Centre of Excellence to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. 
These initiatives aim to address the high rates of violence against children and women in Indigenous communities in particular.
However it is necessary to build on such efforts and frameworks and continue to prioritise the total abolition of all forms of such violence. Monitoring is also necessary as stated by the CRC and such programs must be assessed for effectiveness continuously. Although the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has stated that a national evaluation framework is being developed,  no public information has yet been disseminated.
NATIONAL: Indigenous Community Links program additional funding
Indigenous Community Links encourages Indigenous people living in rural and remote areas to access mainstream support programs. The Government has now committed to $42 million funding over 3 years from 2012 to support Indigenous access to services. 
In addition there are a number of actions and initiatives being undertaken by other states and territories, such as Victoria’s ‘Family Violence—Support for Indigenous Women and Children’ initiative.
It is important that programmes such as these continue to be funded by the government, as well as the specific recommendations of the CRC be implemented in order to adequately protect children and young people’s rights in Australia.
NATIONAL: Implementation of interconnected support services for child victims of domestic violence
A number of initiatives have been developed in order to support child victims of domestic violence, including ‘V-Alert’ which focuses on providing training to health professionals and frontline workers who come into contact with people who at risk of domestic violence. The training specifically relates to victims of domestic violence and enables professionals to provide the best possible support and referrals. 
The ‘Domestic and Family Violence Strategy,’ operated through Centrelink, also aims to integrate social work services for victims of domestic violence. 
Under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, over 30 initiatives focus on providing emergency housing to victims of domestic and family violence,  providing women and their children with crisis accommodation and the ability to leave violent homes. Referrals may be met through a variety of programs, such as NSW’s DVPass which connects victims with a range of services. 
While these initiatives are necessary for the protection of children, the government has not yet implemented a satisfactory strategy in ensuring effective follow up support for child victims of domestic violence upon family reintegration or effective alternatives for cases where a parent is the perpetrator. Therefore, the recommendations of the CRC have not been adequately addressed in this case.
NSW: NSW Domestic and Family Violence Council appointed under ‘It Stops Here’ reforms
The NSW Domestic and Family Violence Council has been established and appointed, with a mandate to advise the NSW Government on all aspects of domestic and family violence policy and programs. 
The Council is comprised of both government and non-government members and is directly aligned to the recent ‘It Stops Here’ reforms, which the government has stated is a “more proactive and collective response to domestic and family violence, with a strong focus on early intervention and prevention”. 
The reforms have also seen the establishment of a TAFE and Department of Family Services partnership aimed at providing education, training and professional development for frontline domestic and family violence workers in NSW. 
NSW: New technology initiatives to combat domestic violence
Minister for Women Pru Goward revealed in 2012 a new state government trial initiative to protect women vulnerable to domestic violence.
Victims of domestic violence are provided with SOS alarms, equipped with GPS devices, to trigger in cases of harassment or threatening by former partners or abusers. A dedicated phone line has been established within the police force to respond to the alarms, as well as interconnected services with the Department of Community Services. 
NT: Stronger Futures project additions and funding
The Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments have strengthened the Stronger Futures ‘Child, Youth, Family and Community Wellbeing Package’ through additional funding of $443 million over ten years from 2012 to provide an additional 16 safe houses, two new Mobile Child Protection Teams, Intensive Family Support Services and Playgroups and the provision of the Youth Communities program in over 30 communities.  Funding is also being provided for the establishment of 15 new remote ‘Communities for Children and Young People’ sites across the Northern Territory. The first ten sites were chosen in February 2013 and the program began in the first five communities in July 2013. 
WA: Youth Say No project
The Department for Child Protection has developed a number of resources for children and young people who are experiencing domestic and family violence. Their website provides information on domestic violence, dating violence and other resources for young victims of violence. 
WA: Campaign to stop violence in indigenous families
The Western Australian government has pledged $75 million to tackle child sexual abuse and family violence in indigenous families. 
This pledge comes in response to the release of the Gordon Inquiry in 2012, which found that Aboriginal women are 45 times more likely to be abused than non-Aboriginal women. It also follows the announcement in January 2013 of a Perth-based metropolitan service for Aboriginal women and children fleeing domestic violence. 
The government will employ additional child protection workers, domestic violence officers and police officers to monitor the campaign, and build nine new multi-functional police centres under the plans. 
This initiative is a positive development for the protection of indigenous women and children in particular in Western Australia. However, it must be ensured that continued funding, culturally appropriate support and follow up are also provided to victims of family violence. Furthermore, as recommended by the CRC, specific plans for implementing the National Frameworks should be pursued by both national and state governments in order to protect Australian children from family violence.
Developments requiring attention
NATIONAL: Developments under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020
The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 was endorsed on 30 April 2009 by COAG. Under the Plan, the safety of Australian children is prioritised through the development of goals and standards.
The Framework identifies the fact that experiencing domestic and family violence can have a profound effect on a child, impacting on future relationships, health and emotional wellbeing and engagement in work and community life. 
Initiatives developed under the Framework which have had a positive impact on children who have suffered or are at risk of domestic violence include the streamlining of Working With Children Checks,  new Indigenous Parenting Support Services and a Common Approach to Assessment, Referral and Support (“CAARS”). Under independent evaluation, initiatives such as CAARS have been shown to be an appropriate approach to help reduce child abuse and neglect,  as it increases the capacity and confidence of practitioners to identify and support cases.
However, there remains a number of outstanding issues in relation to the National Framework, including the lack of consultation with children affected by violence both during drafting and in assessment. Furthermore, it cannot be held that the Framework is an appropriate substitute for nationalised anti-violence strategies and legislation, as recommended explicitly by the CRC.
Furthermore, although the CRC recommended that the Australian government ensure effective support for child victims of domestic violence upon their family reintegration, the National Plan does not specifically address this issue .
NATIONAL: Report into involuntary sterilisation does not extend to those lacking legal capacity
The CRC in its Concluding Observations recommended the implementation of strict guidelines to prevent the sterilisation of women and girls with disability who cannot consent. At present under Australian law, non-therapeutic sterilisation of women and girls can be authorised by the Courts. 
In July 2013 the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee tabled its report into involuntary or coerced sterilised of people with disabilities in Australia. It recommended that the law be strengthened to better education persons with disabilities, their families, courts and medical practitioners about their rights and responsibilities.  The Committee found that state and territory legislation needs to be amended “to explicitly state that it is presumed that persons with disabilities have the capacity to make their own decisions unless objectively assessed otherwise,”  and further recommended criminalisation of overseas forced sterilisations. The Committee also recommended that legislation be amended to explicitly state that “a court or tribunal does not have authority to hear an application for an order approving a proposed special medical procedure, including a sterilisation procedure, where the person with a disability has legal capacity.” 
While these and other recommendations are aimed at protecting the rights of consenting adults and children with disabilities, they do not extend to protect those who are not deemed able to consent as a result of their disability. Therefore, forced sterilisation is still possible for those persons who are not able to consent to the procedure. This is not consistent with the recommendations of the CRC.
The Australian government has not yet acted upon these recommendations, but must consider the internationally accepted Concluding Observations of the CRC when doing so in the future.
Areas lacking progress
NATIONAL: Continued lawful violence against children and women
The Committee in its Concluding Observations recommended that the Australian Government prioritise the elimination of all violence against children, including by implementing the recommendations of the United Nations study on violence against children which urges states to prohibit all forms of violence against children, including corporal punishment. Nevertheless, corporal punishment in the home remains lawful across Australia.
NSW: Funding cuts to Local Courts puts domestic violence victims at risk
Funding cuts to the NSW Local Court system has meant that nine courts across NSW are scheduled to close in the coming months. 
Domestic violence advocates fear that victims will be deterred from seeking domestic violence orders or making court appearances as a result of increased travel time and costs to courts located further away. The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service has stated that the cuts are “putting women at risk”. 
These cuts have the potential to negatively impact on child victims of domestic violence if their parents are dissuaded from seeking domestic violence orders or protection. The government must investigate this matter further and ensure adequate support and transport is available for potential victims of family violence to access legal services.
WA: Criminal Code Amendment (Domestic Violence) Bill 2012 (WA) blocked in Parliament
The WA Parliament has been criticised for not passing the Criminal Code Amendment (Domestic Violence) Bill 2012 (WA) introduced by the Opposition Leader, Mark McGowan MLA. The Bill was drafted in response to the death of a young woman at the hands of a violent partner, who was sentenced to only 5 years in prison.  The Bill would have increased maximum imprisonment for unlawful assault causing death in cases of domestic and family violence cases from 10 years to 20 years. However, Mr McGowan claims that the sitting government “voted against the Bill for political reasons” and “have failed victims of domestic violence” by doing so.