Showing posts with label government policy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label government policy. Show all posts

Thursday, 21 June 2018

At last! A way to gaol the entire Turnbull Government



Excerpts from the  Explanatory Memorandum for CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT (IMPERSONATING A COMMONWEALTH BODY) BILL 2017

The Criminal Code Amendment (Impersonating a Commonwealth Body) Bill 2017 (the Bill) will introduce new offences and a new injunction power to prohibit and prevent conduct amounting to false representation of a Commonwealth body….

It is essential that the public can trust in the legitimacy and accuracy of statements made by Commonwealth bodies. The amendments are critical to ensure the public has confidence in the legitimacy of communications emanating from Commonwealth bodies, thereby safeguarding the proper functioning of Government…..

The Bill introduces a primary offence where the person is reckless as to whether their conduct will result in, or is reasonably capable of resulting in, a false representation. These amendments also create a new aggravated offence where a person engages in such conduct with the intent to obtain a gain, cause a loss, or influence the exercise of a public duty.

This bill finally passed both house of the Australian Parliament on 18 June 2018.

Of course the bill doesn’t actually allow the gaoling of every member of the Turnbull Coalition Government for two to five years.

A government whose members have turned the uttering of outright lies and the continual misrepresentation of fact into art forms. Who only pretend to be governing in the interests of the people.

But a voter can dream, can't she?

This bill was created with the sole purpose of providing the Turnbull Government with a weapon to use during the forthcoming election campaign.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

OUR ABC: Will voters be foolish enough to believe Turnbull Government protestations of innocence?


The Liberal Party of Australia Federal Council comprises 14 delegates from each State and the ACT - the State / Territory President, the State / Territory Parliamentary Leader, the President of the Young Liberal Movement, the President / Chairman of the Women’s Council and 10 other delegates.


More than 100 Liberal Party MPs, senators and party members were in Sydney on 16 June 2018 for the party’s 60th annual federal council which is expected to be the last one before the next federal election.

Here are some of the smiling faces at the event readers might recognise.

Twitter: A bevy of Liberal ministers: Sen. Mitch Fifield, Sen. Mathias Cormann, Julie Bishop MP & Malcolm Turnbull MP

The Young Liberals put forward the motionThat federal council calls for the full privatisation of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, except for services into regional areas that are not commercially viable” and on a more than 2 to 1 show of hands the council voted in favour this motion.

Fairfax media snapshot of ABC privatisation vote

Council delegate Mitchell Collier, federal vice president of the Young Liberals, asserted there was no economic case to keep the broadcaster in public hands.


At the end of the motion debate Mitch Fifield reluctantly got to his feet at the urging of the Chair to offer “comments and observations” but did not condemn the idea of privatisation or oppose the motion outright.

As the vote was on a show of hands only with no official count taken there is no record of how Fifield voted.

Four members of the party’s federal executive voted in favour of the call for privatisation -  Federal Liberal vice-presidents Karina Okotel and Trish Worth, Young Liberal president Josh Manuatu and vice president Mitchell Collier who moved the motion. Incoming Federal Liberal vice-president NSW member Teena McQueen also voted for privatisation.

The federal council also voted in favour of an efficiency review of the SBS network.

After the vote became public two Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) members made statements to the media.

RMIT University professor and IPA Senior Research Fellow Sinclair Davidson said privatisation of the ABC should be the “default” Coalition policy as the Liberals were the party of small government which supported private enterprise.

He also told Sky News that ‘Selling the ABC to Gina Rinehart would be magnificent’

IPA research fellow Chris Berg said the preferred option would be for ownership to be transferred to ABC staff or Australian taxpayers.

The Australian Minister for Communications and yet another IPA member, Senator Mitch Fifield, who has previously stated that there is “merit in the proposal to privatise the ABC is currently trying to hose down alarm in the national electorate over that federal council vote.

His claims that the Turnbull Government supports the Australian public broadcaster and denies it has any intention of selling off the ABC.

Given past behaviour of the Abbott and Turnbull governments, the belligerence displayed towards the ABC and the stable from which Fifield comes, I don’t believe a word of his denial.

Just as the Prime Minister's denial is not one on which I would depend.

Monday, 18 June 2018

The Australian Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs put a dog whistle to his lips and blew hard last week



This is Australian Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Liberal MP for Aston and child of British migrant parents, Alan Edward Tudge, quoted by ABC News on 14 June 2018:

The Federal Government is considering new English language requirements for anyone seeking permanent residency, with figures showing close to 1 million people in Australia cannot speak basic English.

Australia accepts up to 190,000 permanent migrants each year and while they need to prove they can understand English, their spouses, children and extended family accompanying them do not.

Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge argued this had created the "concerning situation" where "close to a million" Australians now do not speak the national language.

"That's not in the interests of those migrants but nor is it in the interests of social cohesion, because if we can't communicate with one another, it's very difficult to integrate," he said.

So there are “close to a million” Australians who don’t speak English, are there?

Although the article mention the 2016 Census it is unclear if Alan Tudge has actually read the English proficiency data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

As is usual for a Coalition minister, he is applying a dog whistle to his lips and blowing hard.

This is what that census actually revealed:

*In the Australia in 2016 there were 2,071,384 females and 1,997,244 males who spoke another language at home who reported they spoke English well or very well;

*Another 460,039 females and 359,882 males who spoke another language at home reported a degree of difficulty in speaking English;

*That’s a total of 819,922 people stating a degree of difficulty or 3.5% of a population of 23,401,907 persons counted at the 2016 Census; and

*Of the number who had difficulty in speaking English only 193,036 (aged 0 to 85 years and over) spoke no English at all - that’s 0.82% of the entire Australian population.

So what any reasonable person can say with regard to English proficiency is that a total of 193,036 people from a non-English speaking background, ranging from newborns up to the very old do, not speak any English.

That number is 806,964 short of being one million - it's not even "close to a million".

As a ploy for presenting yet another bill to parliament which allows denial of permanent residency or denial of citizenship to migrants from non-English speaking countries, Alan Tudge’s argument is full of holes.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The political endorsements of extinction by Turnbull, Berejiklian and Palaszczuk governments continue




Wild fish stocks in Australian waters shrank by about a third in the decade to 2015, declining in all regions except strictly protected marine zones, according to data collected by scientists and public divers.

The research, based on underwater reef monitoring at 533 sites around the nation and published in the Aquatic Conservation journal, claims to be the first large-scale independent survey of fisheries. It found declining numbers tracked the drop in total reported catch for 213 Australian fisheries for the 1992-2014 period.

The biomass of larger fish fell 36 per cent on fished reefs during 2005-15 and dropped 18 per cent in marine park zones allowing limited fishing, the researchers said. There was a small increase in targeted fish species in zones that barred fishing altogether.
"Most of the numbers are pretty shocking," said David Booth, a marine ecologist at the University of Technology Sydney. “This paper really nails down the fact that fishing or the removal of large fish is one of the causes” of their decline.

Over-fished stocks include the eastern jackass morwong, eastern gemfish, greenlip abalone, school shark, warehou and the grey nurse shark. The morwong catch, once as common as flathead in the trawl fishery, dived about 95 per cent from the 1960s to 109 tonnes in the 2015-16 year to become basically a bycatch species……

…Peter Whish-Wilson, the Greens ocean spokesman, said the new research was largely based on actual underwater identification – including the Reef Life Survey using citizen scientists. It suggests fishing stocks "are not as rosy as the industry or government would like us all to think".

"This study also shows that marine parks can be successful fisheries management tools but we simply don’t have enough of them or enough protection within them to deliver widespread benefits," he said.

"The new Commonwealth Marine Reserves are woefully inadequate and won’t do anything to stop the continuing decline in the health of our oceans."


Humane Society International Australia (HSI), represented by EDO NSW, is seeking independent review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) decision to approve a lethal shark control program in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

HSI has lodged an appeal in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) which will require a full reconsideration of the approval of the shark control program. The 10 year lethal control program targets 26 shark species in the Marine Park, including threatened and protected species. The appeal is based on the public interest in protecting the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.....

As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in maintaining the health of the Great Barrier Reef. HSI is concerned about the ongoing impacts caused by the use of lethal drumlines which are known to impact not only on shark species but also dolphins, turtles and rays. HSI is calling for non-lethal alternatives for bather protection.


Forest covering an area more than 50 times the size of the combined central business districts of Sydney and Melbourne is set to be bulldozed near the Great Barrier Reef, official data shows, triggering claims the Turnbull government is thwarting its $500 million reef survival package.

Figures provided to Fairfax Media by Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy show that 36,600 hectares of land in Great Barrier Reef water catchments has been approved for tree clearing and is awaiting destruction.

The office of Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg did not say if his government was comfortable with the extent of land clearing approved in Queensland, or if it would use its powers to cancel permits.

The approvals were granted by the Queensland government over the past five years. About 9000 hectares under those approvals has already been cleared.

Despite the dire consequences of land clearing for the Great Barrier Reef – and billions of dollars of public money spent over the years to tackle the problem – neither Labor nor the government would commit to intervening to stop the mass deforestation.


Freedom of information laws are an important mechanism for making government decisions transparent and accountable. But the existence of such laws doesn’t mean access to information is easy.

It took a three-year legal process for the Humane Society International (HSI), represented by EDO NSW, to access documents about how the Australian Government came to accredit a NSW biodiversity offsets policy for major projects

The NSW policy in question allowed significant biodiversity trade-offs (that is, permitting developers to clear habitat in return for compensatory actions elsewhere) seemingly inconsistent with national biodiversity offset standards. HSI wanted to know how the national government could accredit a policy that didn’t meet its own standards.

Despite Australia being a signatory to important international environmental agreements and accepting international obligations to protect biodiversity, in recent years it has been proposed that the national government should delegate its environmental assessment and approval powers to the states, creating a ‘one stop shop’ for developers.

The original FOI request in this case was submitted in early 2015, during a time when Federal and State and Territory Governments were actively in consultation on handing over federal approval powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). This was to be done in the name of efficiency, with the assurance that national standards would be upheld by the states.
Over 60 documents finally accessed by HSI show this was a false promise. The documents reveal that federal bureaucrats in the environment department identified key areas of the NSW policy that differed from federal standards.

Despite this, the policy was accredited.

Accreditation meant that the NSW policy could be used when approving developments with impacts on nationally threatened species found in NSW, instead of applying the more rigorous national offsets policy.

In the time it took to argue for access to the documents, NSW developed a new biodiversity offsets policy as part of broader legislative reforms for biodiversity and land clearing. Unfortunately, the new NSW biodiversity offsets policy continues to entrench many of the weaker standards. For example, mine site rehabilitation decades in the future can count as an offset now; offset requirements may be discounted if other socio-economic factors are considered; and supplementary measures - such as research or paying cash - are an alternative to finding a direct offset (that is, protecting the actual plant or animal that has been impacted by a development).

While there have been some tweaks to the new policy for nationally listed threatened species, there is still a clear divergence in standards. The new policy, and the new NSW biodiversity laws, are now awaiting accreditation by the Australian Government.

How our unique and irreplaceable biodiversity is managed (and traded off) is clearly a matter of public interest. And on the eve of a hearing at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the federal environment department agreed and released over 60 documents. While it was a heartening win for transparency and the value of FOI laws, it was a depressing read when these documents revealed the political endorsement of extinction.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Another asylum seeker death on Manus Island


There have been three deaths of asylum seekers held in Australian off shore detention in the last nine months - one on Nauru and two on Manus Island - according to Border Crossing Observatory.

This recent death brings the count to four.

UNHCR: The United Nations Refugee Agency, media release, 22 May 2018:

UNHCR Statement
By UNHCR Regional Representation in Canberra  22 May 2018

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is profoundly saddened by the death of a Rohingya refugee on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, today. The tragic loss of yet another vulnerable person under Australian ‘offshore processing’ again underscores the need for proper care and immediate solutions.

“With the passage of too many years and the withdrawal or reduction of essential services, the already critical situation for refugees most in need continues to deteriorate,” said Nai Jit Lam, UNHCR’s Deputy Regional Representative in Canberra. “Australia’s responsibility for those who have sought its protection remains unchanged. Our thoughts and condolences are with the man’s family today.”

UNHCR renews its call for the Government of Australia to take immediate action to provide assistance and solutions, and to avert further harm and tragedy. Comprehensive, intensive support for refugees and asylum-seekers remains desperately needed in both Papua New Guinea and Nauru. The national authorities of both countries lack the means and infrastructure to address growing needs.

UNHCR is continuing to seek further information from the Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea respectively.

UNHCR Regional Representation in Canberra
UNHCR’s Regional Representation is based in Canberra, and is responsible for the promotion and protection of refugee rights in Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.


The Guardian, 22 May 2018:

A Rohingya refugee has died in a violent motor vehicle incident on Manus Island.

The man was witnessed “coming out of a moving vehicle”, according to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, and suffered “very serious head injuries”.

He died at the scene, the organisation said. “It is not know who else was in the vehicle.”

The man, whose identity is not being released until his family is notified, had a long history of physical and mental illness and had been on Manus for more than five years.

A few years ago he was sent to Australia for medical treatment but was returned, according to the journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani.

Boochani said the other refugees had been aware of his illness. They were “deeply saddened and horrified at the news of another friend’s death”.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Sometimes it is hard to believe how bone-achingly stupid governments can be…… Part Two



This was an example of Smart and Skilled/VET at work in 2016…….

The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 2016:

The NSW government has given tens of millions in taxpayer dollars to help train staff at private corporations including global giant McDonalds.

A freedom of information request by the NSW Greens reveals the state government has awarded Mcdonald's Australia $1,809,485 in funding for vocational education and training.

In the second quarter of 2016 McDonald's reported net income of $1.09 billion, or $1.25 per share, on sales of$6.26 billion.

This was Smart and Skilled/VET-HELP on a national level in 2017……
via @TAFEeducation


According to the Commonwealh Ombudsman, between 1 July 2017 and 31 March 2018 there were 5,193 VET loan assistance complaints lodged by students, many of whom had discovered they had been signed up to a student loan without their knowledge or discovered that the loan amount is larger than they expected.

Monday, 21 May 2018

The Turnbull Government has the solution to its poll number blues already at hand - but will it act?


lesterlost.com
State and federal governments have known for years that there is a correlation between unoccupied residential housing, negative gearing of investment properties and capital gains by individuals in the higher income percentiles.



An est. 11.2 per cent of residential properties were unoccupied, up from 9.8 per cent in 2006.

There is currently an artificial scarcity of residential housing in this country which governments seem intent on ignoring.


It has been reported in 2018 that 250 people are turned away from crisis centres across the country every day.

Again, governments are not paying enough attention to the social and economic costs to their own budgetary bottom line this growing problem will cause.

The latest Newspoll published on 13 May 2018 was conducted from Thursday 10 May to Sunday 13 May with 1,728 survey respondents.

It shows the Lib-Nat Coalition’s primary vote standing at 39% to Labor’s 38%. However the Coalition trailed Labor 49 to 51 on a two-party preferred basis, with that margin the coalition's best position since September 2016. 

That is the 32nd Newspoll in a row where the Labor Opposition was ahead of the Turnbull Government on a two-party preferred basis.

If Turnbull & Co really wanted to turn primary and two-party preferred polling numbers around they would announce some substantial new policy measures in the months following the 2018-19 Budget.

The phasing out of negative gearing of investment properties over a ten year period, reforming capital gain provisions and creating more tied grants for social housing would be a good start.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

An insider has finally admitted what any digital native would be well aware of - your personal health information entered into a national database will be no safer that having it up on Facebook


Remembering that a federal government national screening program, working with with a private entity, has already accessed personal information from Medicare without consent of registered individuals and entered these persons into a research program - again without consent - and these individuals apparently could not easily opt out of being listed as a research subject but were often only verbally offered  the option of declining to take part in testing, which presumably meant that health data from other sources was still capable of being collected about them by the program. One has to wonder what the Turnbull Government and medical establishment actually consider patient rights to be in practice when it comes to "My Health Record".

Healthcare IT News, 4 May 2018:

Weeks before the anticipated announcement of the My Health Record opt out period, an insider’s leak has claimed the Australian Digital Health Agency has decided associated risks for consumers “will not be explicitly discussed on the website”.

As the ADHA heads towards the imminent announcement of the three-month window in which Australians will be able to opt out of My Health Record before being signed up to the online health information repository, the agency was caught by surprise today when details emerged in a blog post by GP and member of the steering group for the national expansion of MHR, Dr Edwin Kruys.

Kruys wrote that MHR offers “clear benefits” to healthcare through providing clinicians with greater access to discharge summaries, pathology and diagnostic reports, prescription records and more, but said “every digital solution has its pros and cons” and behind-the-scenes risk mitigation has been one of the priorities of the ADHA. However, he claimed Australians may not be made aware of the risks involved in allowing their private medical information to be shared via the Federal Government’s system.

“It has been decided that the risks associated with the MyHR will not be explicitly discussed on the website,” Kruys wrote.

“This obviously includes the risk of cyber attacks and public confidence in the security of the data.”

The most contentious contribution in the post related to the secondary use of Australians’ health information, the framework of which has yet to be announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Contacted by HITNA, the agency moved swiftly to have Kruys delete the paragraph relating to secondary use.

In the comment that has since been removed, Kruys wrote, “Many consumers and clinicians regard secondary use of the MyHR data as a risk. The MyHR will contain a ‘toggle’, giving consumers the option to switch secondary use of their own data on or off.”

Under the My Health Records Act 2012, health information in MHR may be collected, used and disclosed “for any purpose” with the consent of the healthcare recipient. One of the functions of the system operator is “to prepare and provide de-identified data for research and public health purposes”. 

Before these provisions of the act will be implemented, a framework for secondary use of MHR systems data must be established. 

HealthConsult was engaged to assist the Federal Government in developing a draft framework and implementation plan for the process and within its public consultation process in 2017 received supportive submissions from the Australasian College of Health Informatics, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and numerous research institutes, universities, and clinicians’ groups.

Computerworld, 14 May 2018:

Use of both de-identified data and, in some circumstances, identifiable data will be permitted under a new government framework for so-called “secondary use” of data derived from the national eHealth record system. Linking data from the My Health Record system to other datasets is also allowed under some circumstances.

The Department of Health last year commissioned the development of the framework for using My Health Record data for purposes other than its primary purpose of providing healthcare to an individual.

Secondary use can include research, policy analysis and work on improving health services.

Under the new framework, individuals who don’t want their data used for secondary purposes will be required to opt-out. The opt-out process is separate from the procedure necessary for individuals who don’t want an eHealth record automatically created for them (the government last year decided to shift to an opt-out approach for My Health Record)……

Access to the data will be overseen by an MHR Secondary Use of Data Governance Board, which will approve applications to access the system.

Any Australian-based entity with the exception of insurance agencies will be permitted to apply for access the MHR data. Overseas-based applicants “must be working in collaboration with an Australian applicant” for a project and will not have direct access to MHR data.

The data drawn from the records may not leave Australia, but under the framework there is scope for data analyses and reports produced using the data to be shared internationally……

The Department of Health came under fire in 2016 after it released for download supposedly anonymised health data. Melbourne University researchers were able to successfully re-identify a range of data.

Last month the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner revealed that health service providers accounted for almost a quarter of the breaches reported in the first six weeks of operation of the Notifiable Data Breach (NDB) scheme.


Australians who don't want a personal electronic health record will have from July 16 to October 15 to opt-out of the national scheme the federal government announced on Monday.

Every Australian will have a My Health Record unless they choose to opt-out during the three-month period, according to the Australian Digital Health Agency.

The announcement follows the release of the government’s secondary use of data rules earlier this month that inflamed concerns of patient privacy and data use.


Under the framework, medical information would be made available to third parties from 2020 - including some identifying data for public health and research purposes - unless individuals opted out.

In other news....... 


A cyber attack on Family Planning NSW's website has exposed the personal information of up to 8000 clients, including women who have booked appointments or sought advice about abortion, contraception and other services.

Clients received an email from FPNSW on Monday alerting them that their website had been hacked on Anzac Day.

The compromised data contained information from roughly 8000 clients who had contacted FPNSW via its website in the past 2½ years to make appointments or give feedback.

It included the personal details clients entered via an online form, including names, contact details, dates of birth and the reason for their enquiries….

The website was secured by 10am on April 26, 2018 and all web database information has been secure since that time

SBS News, 14 May 2018:

Clients were told Family Planning NSW was one of several agencies targeted by cybercriminals who requested a bitcoin ransom on April 25…..
The not-for-profit has five clinics in NSW, with more than 28,000 people visiting every year.

The most recent Digital Rights Watch State of Digital Rights (May 2018) report can be found here.

The report’s 8 recommendations include:

Repeal of the mandatory metadata retention scheme

Introduction of a Commonwealth statutory civil cause of action for serious invasions of privacy

A complete cessation of commercial espionage conducted by the Australian Signals Directorate

Changes to copyright laws so they are flexible, transparent and provide due process to users

Support for nation states to uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in the digital age

Expand the definition of sensitive information under the Privacy Act to specifically include behavioural biometrics

Increase measures to educate private businesses and other entities of their responsibilities under the Privacy Act regarding behavioural biometrics, and the right to pseudonymity

Introduce a compulsory register of entities that collect static and behavioural biometric data, to provide the public with information about the entities that are collecting biometric data and for what purpose

The loopholes opened with the 2011 reform of the FOI laws should be closed by returning ASD, ASIO, ASIS and other intelligence agencies to the ambit of the FOI Act, with the interpretation of national security as a ground for refusal of FOI requests being reviewed and narrowed

Telecommunications providers and internet platforms must develop processes to increase transparency in content moderation and, make known what content was removed or triggered an account suspension.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Safer Pathway program becomes third government-led domestic violence initiative to be found ineffective by BOCSAR



The NSW Government domestic violence program rolled out between September 2014 and July 2015......


The safety and protection of victims and their children lies at the heart of It Stops Here: Standing Together to End Domestic and Family Violence, the NSW Government’s Domestic and Family Violence Framework for Reform.

Safer Pathway proposes a fundamental change in how agencies and organisations support victim’s safety in NSW. Through Safer Pathway, the right services are provided to victims when they need them, in a coordinated way.

The key components of Safer Pathway build on the existing service response. These are:

* a Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool (DVSAT) to better and consistently identify the level of domestic violence threat to victims

* a Central Referral Point to electronically manage and monitor referrals

* a state-wide network of Local Coordination Points that facilitate local responses and provide victims with case coordination and support. By the end of March 2018, Safer Pathway will be operational at the following 43 sites: Albury, Armidale, Ashfield/Burwood, Bankstown, Bathurst, Blacktown, Blue Mounatins, Bourke, Broken Hill, Campbelltown, Coffs Harbour, Deniliquin, Dubbo, Far South Coast, Goulburn, Gosford, Griffith, Hunter Valley, Illawarra, Lismore, Liverpool, Moree, Mt Druitt, Newcastle, Newtown, Northern Beaches, Nowra, Orange, Parramatta, Penrith, Port Macquarie, Queanbeyan, St George, Sutherland, Tamworth, Taree, Toronto, Tweed Heads, Wagga Wagga, Walgett, Waverley, Wollongong and Wyong.

* Safety Action Meetings in which members develop plans for victims at serious threat of death, disability or injury as a result of domestic and family violence

* information sharing legislation that allows service providers to share information about victims and perpetrators so that victims do not have to retell their story multiple times, to hold perpetrators accountable and promote an integrated response for victims at serious threat.

The outcome at Year 4 of the program......


Wai-Yin Wan, Hamish Thorburn, Suzanne Poynton and Lily TrimboliAssessing the impact of NSW’s Safer Pathway Program on recorded crime outcomes – an aggregate-level analysis, February 2018


A signature NSW government program to reduce domestic violence rates is failing to protect women from further harm, a new report reveals, casting doubt over the Premier’s target of reducing reoffending by 25 per cent by 2021.

The Safer Pathway program, a key feature of state government's 2014 domestic violence reforms, "has only had a limited effect on the incidence of domestic violence", according to two reports released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

It is the third government-led domestic violence initiative to be found ineffective by BOCSAR in recent months.

Dr Don Weatherburn, BOCSAR's director, said the Premier's goal of reducing the number of perpetrators who reoffend within 12 months to 10.7 per cent by 2021 was now out of reach.

"Judging from what we've seen there's no way we are going to have a 25 per cent reduction in domestic violence reoffending by 2021,"  he said.

Under the Safer Pathway program, police are required to assess all victims who report domestic violence using a questionnaire known as the Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool.

Victims assessed as having a "serious risk" are then referred to a Safety Action Meeting (SAM), where a team of experts develop an "action plan" for the victim.
BOCSAR tracked more than 24,000 cases of domestic violence between January 1, 2016, and June 30, 2016, and found that the questionnaire was a "very poor instrument for measuring the risk of repeat domestic violence victimisation, often performing little better than chance".

As part of the questionnaire, victims are required to answer 25 questions designed to assess their risk-level. A police officer then performs a further assessment, including whether there are children at risk of harm. Victims are considered at "serious risk" if they respond "yes" to at least 12 questions, and if the officer's assessment also concludes there is a legitimate threat.

However, BOCSAR's report found that 90 per cent of those who experienced repeat victimisation had responded ‘'yes'’ to fewer than 12 items in the questionnaire.
“Large numbers of women who are at serious risk aren't being identified as such and aren't being given the support of a safety action meeting,” Dr Weatherburn said.

He said the questionnaire also failed to ask critical questions, such as whether the victim intended to live with the perpetrator.

"We were shocked to discover how bad that instrument was. You might as well guess who is at serious risk,” Dr Weatherburn said…..

Dr Weatherburn said the program's ineffectiveness was partly a byproduct of the inadequacies of the screening process, which he said resulted in women who were not at serious risk being referred to the safe action meetings.

A spokeswoman for Pru Goward, the minister for the prevention of domestic violence, said the NSW government was currently working with BOCSAR to develop "a revised and improved risk assessment tool for domestic violence victims."