The Albanese government has appointed its first domestic violence commissioner as a commitment to address the complex and sensitive factors driving violence against women and children in Australia.
Micaela Cronin, who initially worked as a family violence social worker and was the president of the Australian Council of Social Service, was appointed in her new position last October. Her appointment makes Australia just one in three countries in the world to appoint a domestic violence commissioner.
“I am deeply committed to addressing and ending violence against women and children in all its forms,” Cronin said.
Already in her second week in her new role, Cronin will visit Alice Springs and Darwin in the Northern Territory to meet women and children who have experienced abuse.
Cronin, who plans to visit every state and territory by the end of 2022, told ABC News that her plan is to listen to the communities she will be visiting, hear their challenges, and learn what their priorities are.
"My number one priority is to really start to listen and engage with communities,” she said.
Domestic and family violence related homicides in the Northern Territory are the highest in Australia, while Indigenous women are hospitalised at 40 times the rate of non-indigenous women and children.
Cronin admitted that there is a need to improve information gathering and sharing between states and territories regarding domestic abuse and violence cases, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. She calls the gap and lack of visibility as “critical and shameful.”
Part of Cronin’s task as Australia’s new domestic violence commissioner is to track the progress of a 10-year national plan released jointly by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments, aimed at ending violence against women and children within “one generation.”
The Federal Government has allotted $1.7 billion over six years, which is a figure that many advocates say is inadequate. Cronin believes the funding is a “good beginning” and says she expects that additional money will be needed once the government releases further details about the plan.