Aboriginal affairs: report 2013

Written on the 6 August 2014


Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am pleased to speak on the Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2013. I have spoken on this report previously and at that time I was particularly interested in some of the results the report highlights, especially around the Bumps to Babes and Beyond program that is initiated out of the Mildura area. When I was in Mildura some months ago I had the privilege to visit the program, along with the member for Mildura in the other place, Mr Peter Crisp.

I want to come back to the report because there are some very good elements to it.

As the minister states, it is part of the coalition government's reform strategy that we have undertaken since coming to government, and a number of initiatives that we have undertaken, including the strategy released last year -- the Human Services Aboriginal Strategic Framework 2013-2015 -- and also the Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll. The report says that in 2013 a further 14 outstanding Aboriginal Victorians were inducted into the Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll, bringing the total number of inductees to 49.

Mr D. R. J. O'Brien interjected.

Ms CROZIER -- Mr O'Brien is absolutely right that that was under the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Jeanette Powell, the member for Shepparton in the Assembly.

A number of elements I want to address in this report include some very good initiatives, and I note that in the health analysis area the report speaks of the subsidies program for purchasing spectacles, with more than 4000 spectacles being dispensed in the three years to June 2013. I know this program is very well utilised and extremely well supported by the Australian College of Optometry. That scheme, as the report notes, has been highly successful in increasing the number of Aboriginal people accessing eye health services. That is terribly important for any Victorian, noting in particular that Aboriginal people can be at higher risk of certain chronic diseases that lead to eye disease and blindness, which can be devastating.

I am pleased to see that more access will be forthcoming to that very good spectacle service. I note that in July last year the Minister for Health announced further funding of $750 000 to continue the scheme, and I commend him for that.

Blindness is a devastating chronic disease, the effects of which have a real impact, so that will be very well received within the community.

Another area I want to highlight in the report is that of reducing family violence. It is well noted that the Victorian government is very committed to reducing the incidence of family violence, and the Minister for Community Services, Ms Wooldridge, has been at the forefront of providing significant support in this area, and I want to speak to that in relation to an overall focus that she has had. In this year's budget there was a further announcement of $95 million towards addressing the issue. This is a whole-of-government approach, and it has been well highlighted by the minister and the Premier that domestic violence -- physical, emotional and other violence -- is not tolerated at any stage, and that is why we are very committed to stamping it out, educating the community and putting significant funding into the area.

I note that on Friday, 30 May, a further $30 million was invested into strengthening responses to family violence, and that is to be welcomed because it will go not only to the Aboriginal community, where there is unfortunately a high incidence of family violence, but right across the community. This is not in any one particular area in the community; it is right across the Victorian community, and it is something that our government is clearly focused on. That extra $30 million package will expand statewide, strengthening the risk management program. It will fast-track support for women and children who have experienced family violence, expand case management and practical support for women and children fleeing violence and evaluate our family violence initiatives, including perpetrator interventions, to ensure their effectiveness.

These are real, practical solutions that we are putting into the system to support women, children and families who have unfortunately been exposed to family violence. They are practical measures that will make a real difference to those people.


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