OMG. Another domestic violence inquiry. And they sure have loaded the dice with this one

The inquiry that I am introducing in this post follows hard on the heels of another federal Senate inquiry into domestic violence. My submission to that earlier inquiry can be accessed in this blog post. There have also been several recent inquiries conducted by state governments.

The current federal inquiry is known as the Inquiry into Domestic Violence and Gender Inequality. It is being considered by a Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration known as the ‘References Committee’, the membership of which is listed here.

The proposed terms of reference of the inquiry are to examine:

Domestic violence and gender inequality, with particular reference to:

  1. The role of gender inequality in all spheres of life in contributing to the prevalence of domestic violence;
  2. The role of gender stereotypes in contributing to cultural conditions which support domestic violence, including, but not limited to, messages conveyed to children and young people in:
    1. the marketing of toys and other products,
    2. education, and
    3. entertainment;
  3. The role of government initiatives at every level in addressing the underlying causes of domestic violence, including the commitments under, or related to, the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children; and
  4. Any other related matters.

As can be seen, these terms of reference were tailored for a feminist audience, and perfectly embrace the feminist narrative on DV. That is, in summary, that DV = men beating on women because patriarchy.

In fact each of these earlier inquiries demonstrated a pronounced pro-feminist bias, and this has greatly curtailed the breadth of issues and potential solutions discussed. Thus whilst some useful ideas were generated, these all fell well within the comfortable confines of what feminists consider to be appropriate policy responses.

As can be seen from its title, this inquiry hones in on one particular issue in the domestic violence debate that is absolutely central to the feminist perspective. The theoretical cornerstone of this is the ‘Duluth Model’ discussed in this email exchangethis academic paper, and in various other posts in my blog.

It is my belief, and one which is shared by many others, that applying this position to most (let alone all) incidents of DV is simply wrong. Focussing on gender inequality is diverting the domestic violence debate around 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Thus all things considered, this inquiry will likely be an utter waste of time and money. So why then bother preparing a submission?

My answer? If people who hold alternative views don’t continue to publicly reject the feminist narrative, then the only voices on the public record will be those of the feminist fright-bats that populate organisations such as these. Not on my watch.

Not if we want effective solutions addressing the whole problem, rather than just more of the same costly inequitable and divisive policy failures.

The closing date for public submissions was 31 March 2016. The reporting date was nominated as being 24 August 2016, but don’t hold your breath for the last federal inquiry ran about a year overtime.

Here is a link to the list of submissions received by the Inquiry. My submission is #48, a copy of which is also available here.

Here is a link to the submission prepared by the ‘One in Three’ organisation

Another government inquiry to tell us that domestic violence = men beating women because patriarchy

Yes, just when you thought we had seen (and paid for) the last federal or state government inquiry into domestic violence, at least for a couple of years, apparently we need another one. Well more specifically, the lawyers and feminist DV lobbyists need another one.

But of course we already know what the likely findings and recommendations will be. If I just told them then why couldn’t they save the time and just give me a million dollars now. Either way there would still be a lot of fat left for feminist groups by way of paying them to ‘help’ implement the ‘solution’.

This newer, brighter, better inquiry is being undertaken by the New South Wales Government in Australia. This exercise is called the ‘Blueprint for the domestic and family violence response in NSW’. Here is a web page that provides some details and has links to further information. From that page we learn:

“As part of the It Stops Here: the Domestic and Family Violence Framework for Reform, the NSW Government is developing a Blueprint to improve responses to victims and perpetrators of domestic and family violence (DFV) in NSW (‘the DFV Blueprint’).”

More information at:

Baird government’s $60m package targets domestic violence (14 October 2015)

New $60 million Domestic and Family Violence Package

Domestic and Family Violence Package Fact Sheet (October 2015)

The deadline for submissions is 5 February 2016. Please prepare a submission if you are able. My submission now follows:

Submission in relation to the ‘Blueprint for the Domestic and family violence response in NSW’

Thank you for according me the opportunity to contribute my thoughts about the development of public policy in relation to domestic violence, as this is a topic I feel quite passionate about.

The current situation is one where we have had one particular approach adopted to tackle domestic violence for many years now. It is strongly influenced by feminist ideology and its theoretical underpinning is the ‘Duluth Model’. Countless millions of dollars have been directed towards pursuing this approach yet all would agree that the outcome has been disappointing.

Not only has the incidence of DV not been reduced, but there has been a system-wide failure to acknowledge (let alone seriously address) the incidence of both bi-lateral and female-perpetrated violence, as well as the extent of male victimisation.

In any other field of public policy there would be demands for a greater accountability in both the allocation and expenditure of funds. There would be demands for the uniform introduction of measures such as performance reviews and auditing. People would be encouraged to contribute new and different ideas, and there might well be demands to trial alternative approaches.

Instead, the response to this situation from those in the DV advocacy sphere has been simply to ask for more public funding. Further, those who question the validity or effectiveness of existing failed approaches and/or who propose alternative approaches – are widely attacked and labelled as being anti-women and as misogynists.

To my mind feminist ideology is not precious, but human life is. I would propose that we start a fresh chapter where we acknowledge DV in its entirety and address it in an objective and disciplined manner, unencumbered by myths, dogma, preconceptions or gender bias.

These myths I mention are encapsulated in statements such as:

·         The overwhelming majority of victims of DV are women

·         Women only commit acts of domestic violence in self-defence, and

·         Women are more seriously affected by DV than men

I’ll turn my attention now to the contents of your consultation paper, and to those specific questions posed within it:

Page 5 ‘Preventing DFV by addressing its underlying causes’

People should be made aware that the true nature of the “underlying causes” of DV is subject to considerable debate. Feminists have one view, but there are other valid alternatives. You might also mention that the effectiveness of some of the strategies you list here (for e.g. awareness campaigns) is also hotly-debated, in part because of the lack of rigorous performance review and audit procedures.

It is critically important that, whilst formulating your policy, decision-makers retain an open mind about such issues and be open to hearing about, and discussing, alternative approaches free from any ideologically-motivated censorship.

The current feminist/Duluth Model approach has failed to reduce DV. The only success it can claim is that more women are reporting abuse, which may or may not mean the incidence of DV is increasing. Men are still far less likely to report abuse than women, the effect of which is to further mask the incidence of female abusers.

In any other (less politically polarised) field of public policy the current approach would have been discarded as ineffective many years ago. There must be a better way forward – even if feminists might initially be very much opposed to it.

The paragraph beginning with ‘Early intervention support services …’ already seems to suggest ideological blinkers are in place by implying that the victims of DV are female. Why for example is there no mention of ‘fathers groups’ or ‘support services for at-risk people/groups’?

More specifically, you seem to adopt a gender-neutral approach in relation to perpetrators, but not victims. Again I would urge you to adopt gender-neutral terminology throughout your paper, and in the policies that subsequently emerge from it.

Page 6. I believe that it would be desirable to clearly state here that both victims and perpetrators can be (and are) male, female and transgender, as well as being both heterosexual and homosexual.

You should also address the fact that to date, services for perpetrators such as intensive counselling are rarely if ever made available to female perpetrators.

This is in part due to the failure to acknowledge the incidence and seriousness of female-perpetrated violence, and the widely-held view that violence against women is inherently far more serious an issue than violence against men. This occurs despite that fact that men, overall, are far more likely to be the victims of violence.

Related issues are addressed at:

Page 7 Q1. I believe that the current shotgun approach to awareness campaigns (i.e. aiming the message at everyone in the community) is of a very dubious value, having been compromised by the lack of independent review and valuation as well as ideological bias.

I have discussed this in my post at

I believe that respectful relationship programs in schools are likewise of dubious value in their current gender-biased format, and in fact may even prove to be counter-productive.

I have addressed this issue at and

To be believed and to be acted upon the message must be honest in acknowledging that DV is NOT a gendered issue, and that there are substantial numbers of both male and female perpetrators, and male and female victims.

Many people are now aware for example that domestic violence is most common in lesbian couples, then in heterosexual couples, and then male gay couples. To send out a message that says or implies otherwise is to lose ones credibility at the outset.


Q2. Early intervention. There is a need to provide help lines and counselling services that are gender neutral and do not presuppose guilt, or the nature of the situation, based on the gender of the person seeking advice. That this now occurs on a widespread basis is a disgrace. It needlessly demonises men (of which 98%+ are never violent), and greatly discourages people from seeking assistance. See the following posts on this issue:

Q3. Support the safety and recovery of victims

First and foremost there needs to be dedicated refuge/shelter accommodation for both men and women, including those men who flee with their children. These facilities should be professionally managed and subject to performance reviews and spot-checks.

Conflicts of interests should be avoided and, for example, an arms-length relationship should be enforced between those developing government policy, and the recipients of related funding. See

Funding should also be provided to organisations, such as ‘One in Three’, that advocate for the welfare of men and boys victimised by DV and/or provide direct services to victimised men/boys. At the moment I am not aware of any funding directed towards such groups, and indeed both feminist spokespersons and feminist organisations actively oppose the allocation of funds for this purpose. They do so for example, by attacking/shaming relevant groups and individuals, and by misrepresenting relevant studies and statistics that identify the incidence of male victimisation:

Q4. Perpetrator accountability

As you will see when reading through the articles and papers listed in the various blog posts I have mentioned here, female perpetrators are basically ‘let off the hook’ except in the most serious and violent of cases.

The literature in the web sites of advocacy groups implies that all perpetrators are male, men are usually the ones arrested/removed when police attend a domestic dispute, women are less likely to be charged, and if charged the punishment is likely to be less than in the case of a male.

This sends entirely the wrong message to abusive women and their victims. In the first instance they are less likely to see themselves as having a problem, and to seek help. In the latter case victims are less likely to report abuse and/or seek help thinking that they will not be believed (and even if they are no practical assistance will be forthcoming).

Gender equality, in which I am a firm believer, means that men’s and women’s lives are of equal value, and that men and women should be treated equally before the law, and elsewhere.



Submission to the Victorian Royal Commission on Family Violence (May 2015)

Thank you for according me the opportunity to contribute my thoughts in relation to the pressing social concern that is family violence.

I am not a representative of any particular organization, and I have no pecuniary interest in the provision of services related to family violence. My motivation for preparing this submission is simply that of a concerned citizen who believes that every Australian man, woman and child should be able to live their lives free from violence and abuse.

In this submission I shall:

  • provide a few brief comments in relation to certain specific matters raised in the Commission’s Issue Paper
  • address several myths regarding family violence and explore the linkages between the origins of those myths, and the implications of their widespread dissemination in terms of the prevailing policy response
  • put forward a number of recommendations for consideration by the Commission

Within the context of the public debate and media coverage of the matter, family violence is usually portrayed as consisting of violent and controlling behavior by adult males directed at their adult female partners. Such behavior, however, constitutes only one piece of a large and complex jigsaw.

Academic researchers, on the other hand, generally consider family/domestic violence as comprising violence involving intimate partners that takes the form of man-on-man, woman-on-woman, man-on-women, or woman-on-man violence.

Such research has also identified a substantial incidence of bi-directional violence, whereby both intimate partners perpetrate violent and/or abusive acts against one another.

Others consider family violence to be even broader again including, for example, elder abuse, child abuse and neglect, and violence perpetrated by children/youth against other family members.

For the purpose of this submission I shall use the terms ‘family violence’ ‘domestic violence’ (‘DV’) and ‘intimate partner violence’ as being largely interchangeable.

Where-ever I use the terms ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ I do so in a gender-neutral manner unless otherwise specified, bearing in mind that substantial numbers of people in both categories are male, female or transgender (and indeed many could be placed in both categories).

Some observations in relation to certain matters raised in the Commission’s Issue Paper 

I applaud the fact that the Commission’s Terms of Reference and Issues Paper largely avoid the gender bias that is otherwise rampant within the social debate concerning domestic violence, as well as amongst many of the staff of relevant agencies and advocacy groups. 

I wanted to address a few of the specific points mentioned in the Issue Paper now, but will do some only very briefly as I plan to address several key points later in my submission.

Point 14: “Research shows that it is overwhelmingly women and children who are affected by family violence, and men who are violent towards them. For this reason, family violence is described as being ‘gendered’. Although family violence is gendered, men may also be affected by it”

No, in fact only some research shows women and children as being victims in the “overwhelming” majority of cases. Most credible research shows the rate of male victimisation as falling in a range between 35% and 70%.

Similarly the claim that domestic violence is “gendered” is by no means universally accepted, with many researchers suggesting that categorising family violence as being gendered only deflects attention from its primary causes.

Further, the statement that “men may also be affected by it” is inaccurate, inappropriate and suggestive of gender bias. Men are affected by it. Every single day.

Point 21: “Against this backdrop, community attitudes towards family violence are of interest, and concern. For example, in a 2013 VicHealth survey …”

The unfortunate aspect of this survey was that it was designed with an ideological agenda and particular findings in mind. It did not, but should have, adopted a gender neutral approach. There should have been equal numbers of both male and female respondents, and they should have been asked identical questions about each genders. Instead, this survey only asked about attitudes towards violence/abuse of women and not towards men.

This robbed the findings of the context that was necessary in order to use them to craft appropriate public policy. In others words, for example, we don’t know whether the public is equally or even more complacent about violence against men. Thus we don’t know if we are truly observing an ‘attitude towards violence against women’ problem, or simply an ‘attitude towards violence’ problem.

Point 23: “The Royal Commission acknowledges the sustained and ground-breaking efforts of those who work in this field.” And yet the only indicator of these “ground-breaking efforts” seems to be that more violence is being reported. There is no indication provided of the costs of these initiatives and their measurable outcomes. There needs to be, and this should start now

Point 25: But have not all violent crime rates decreased during this period? Is there any evidence at all that this was due to the strategies described at point 24, or is that simply wishful thinking? I note there is no mention of the homicide rate for men – why? Men are a part of most families.

Point 27: (As for point 21). The results of such surveys must be interpreted with caution as all too often they were designed to explore only one dimension of the family violence debate. Unless equal number of males and females were surveyed, and identical questions asked about violence towards men and toward women, then the findings cannot and will not provide sufficient context and coverage to provide the information needed to formulate an unbiased and effective policy response.

Point 32: This concerns the risks and challenges faced by people in particular groups and communities (see ‘Family violence and particular groups and communities’). On the one hand we are told that the focus of anti-DV efforts must be on abused women because that is where the bulk of the problem is seen to be. We are also told that men’s needs and issues are both lesser and different. And consequently abused men are not acknowledged, their experiences minimised, and their needs mostly ignored.

On the other hand men are not accorded minority status (here or elsewhere) as are various other defined social groups. And so yet again abused men fall through the net and are ignored. This is hardly fair or in the spirit of gender equality.

Question 8: Tell us about any gaps or deficiencies in current responses to family violence, including legal responses. Tell us about what improvements you would make to overcome these gaps and deficiencies, or otherwise improve current responses.

There needs to be greater recognition of the needs of abused men, particular those with children under their care and protection. There needs to be DV refuges that accommodate men, just as there are for women. There needs to be behaviour modification programs made available for violent women, as well as men. There needs to be gender-neutral and non-judgemental help-lines and avenues of support that do not assume that every man that approaches them is either an abuser, potential abuser or abuser in denial. Some are just victims.

Question 14: To what extent do current processes encourage and support people to be accountable and change their behaviour?

If you objectively evaluate the current systems of support and intervention, it will be observed that to a large extent, violent women are let ‘off the hook’ due to the almost exclusive focus of attention on violent men. There appears to be very little accountability imposed on women when the prevailing mindset is that women are only ever victims, women are not aggressive (except in self-defence), women’s actions do not contribute to the incidence of DV, and so on.

Questions 18/19/20: What barriers prevent people in particular groups and communities in Victoria from engaging with or benefiting from family violence services?

How can the family violence system be improved to reflect the diversity of people’s experiences? How can responses to family violence in these groups and communities be improved?

The biggest barriers are the endemic bias against recognising and supporting male victims, against recognising and intervening in the case of abusive women, and against ensuring transparency and accountability on the part of those allocating and spending public funds associated with the battle against family violence.

On an even broader level the shouting-down of anyone proposing theories or methodologies that are not closely aligned to the dominant feminist/Duluth model approach, is the single major constraint on moving towards a truly effective solution to family violence. Consider, for example, just these two recent instances of this aggressive ostracism by the feminist lobby:

Tanveer Ahmed:

Sallee McLaren:

So instead we continue to fund the same groups, providing the same services and campaigns, despite the fact that even they admit that DV rates appear to be moving up rather than down.  

Myth #1 That family violence consists primarily of uni-directional violence perpetrated by men against women
Myth #2 That male victims of domestic violence are relatively rare and unusual

The US organization ‘Stop Abusive and Violent Environments’ (SAVE) examined DV research results from around the world and noted that “These studies show that rates of female perpetration are very similar to male perpetration rates.

The authors concluded that “the results of this review suggest that partner abuse can no longer be conceived as merely a gender problem, but also (and perhaps primarily) as a human and relational problem, and should be framed as such by everyone involved.”  

These conclusions mirror other findings in the United States, where research tells us that men and women initiate most forms of abuse at equal rates, for similar reasons, and rarely in self-defense.” [1]  

The focus of the public debate on DV, violent men and their female victims, is more indicative of the pervasive influence of feminist ideology than being an accurate reflection of actual patterns of DV perpetration.[2]

The effect of this has been to minimize and discredit discussion of female perpetration and male victimization.

It is my position that this systemic gender bias constitutes a significant barrier to effectively addressing domestic violence and better supporting the welfare of all victims of DV.

It is my firm belief that a solution to the problem of domestic violence will continue to elude us as long as agencies continue to only acknowledge and address one piece of the puzzle.

Others who have advanced a similar perspective have been accused of seeking to ameliorate the behavior of male perpetrators and/or to downplay the suffering experienced by female victims. I wish to assure you, the Commissioners, that this is most certainly not my intention.

DV advocacy groups, social commentators, and even senior members of the public service, have repeatedly stated that “the overwhelming majority of domestic violence in Australia is perpetrated by men against women”.[3] This is quite simply untrue.

Numerous respected and non-ideologically biased researchers have found that between one and two-thirds of the victims of domestic violence are male.[4] [5] The variation in findings was dependent upon variables that included the country surveyed, sampling techniques and the definition of ‘domestic violence’ employed.

Other research has also highlighted the fact that large numbers of men commit suicide as a result of either being subjected to domestic violence, or after having been falsely accused of perpetrating domestic violence.[6] [7] It should be remembered that a man’s separation from his children can and does occur regardless of whether the father is the perpetrator, the alleged perpetrator, and/or the victim of domestic violence (as for e.g. in the case where no emergency accommodation is available for fathers with children).

Indeed I can assure the Commission that much of the data about patterns of domestic violence that appears in the media, and in the web sites of DV agencies, is woefully misleading. This is unfortunate as suitable data, albeit sometimes imperfect or incomplete in some regards, is available for those who genuinely seek it. From this one might conclude that misleading statistics are at times being deliberately advanced in order to support a particular ideological perspective that, as previously noted, is held by many working in the field of DV. And in fact there is clear evidence that this is occurs relatively frequently and with complete impunity.[8]

One red flag for astute observers is the absence of comparative statistics for male victimisation within much of the literature about domestic violence. In some cases this is because men were not surveyed, or surveyors failed to ask the appropriate questions regarding female perpetration and male victims. In other cases the relevant comparisons were available but were not reported, presumably as doing so might undermine a predetermined narrative and/or preferred conclusion.

The view that is put forward by most within the DV sector is that their preoccupation with male violence is justified because the number of female perpetrators is minimal – that female abusers are virtually an insignificant aberration.

When provided with alternative research showing more similar rates of perpetration, the fall-back position is typically that a focus on male offenders remains valid because females only perpetrate violence in self-defence, that the physical violence they perpetrate is less severe, and/or that the impact of DV is greater for women than men.

The first statement is demonstrably false[9] and the subsequent statements demand careful qualification to have any significance in framing an appropriate policy response.

Myth #3 That women rarely perpetrate violent and controlling behaviour  

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) prepared a submission to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. RAINN is the USA’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. In that submission they wrote:

“… an inclination to focus on particular segments of the student population (e.g. athletes), particular aspects of campus culture (e.g., the Greek system), or traits that are common in many millions of law-abiding Americans (e.g., “masculinity”), rather than on the subpopulation at fault: those who choose to commit rape. This trend has the paradoxical effect of making it harder to stop sexual violence, since it removes the focus from the individual at fault, and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions.”[10]

Now change ‘sexual violence’ to ‘domestic violence’ and consider the implications for the DV debate. As stated earlier, many within the DV sector are loudly asserting that ‘domestic violence is men’s violence towards women’, and devoting their resources to educating/shaming men as a collective group. But by doing so they are inadvertently sending a message to violent women that ‘whatever you are doing must be something other than domestic violence’, and ‘given the inherently violent nature of men your actions might well be justified’.

It also follows that violent women would be less concerned about being prosecuted in the knowledge that they will probably be believed more readily than their male partner should the authorities become involved.

The claim that women are rarely responsible for domestic violence becomes all the more implausible when one considers recent trends showing substantial increases in violent crime by women and girls.[11] Such increases are now, in some jurisdictions, exceeding the trend in similar crimes by males.

On the implications of failing to properly acknowledge/support/counsel violent women and male victims of DV  

The ‘DV=Men’s violence towards women’ focus is reflected in language and in statements that paint a picture of all men as abusers or potential abusers. Web site content, even to promote help-lines, is written in such a way as to pre-judge visitors based on their gender. I will provide a link to one such site in a footnote, but the agency in question is by no means unusual in this regard.[12] The material posted online in most Australian federal, state, and NGO web sites dealing with DV is assiduously judgmental and anti-male in its nature.

Take for example the document the ‘National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children’ which sets the scene for addressing domestic violence at both federal and state level. That document, as do many others like it, waves away the welfare of battered men within the first few paragraphs. The Plan states “While a small proportion of men are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, the majority of people who experience this kind of violence are women in a home, at the hands of men they know.  Men are more likely to be the victims of violence from strangers and in public, so different strategies are required to address these different types of violence.”

As a consequence of both the message being communicated by DV agencies, and broader social forces at work (i.e. anti-male bias and sex-role stereotyping), many male victims are discouraged from coming forward to report crimes and/or seek assistance. By the same token it is also entirely likely that the overt profiling undertaken by DV agencies results in fewer women coming forward to seek help for their own aggressive tendencies.

Under-reporting by male victims then has a flow-on effect of reinforcing the misconception that there are few female aggressors, that facilities for male victims are unnecessary, that survey question on male victims/female aggressors are redundant, etc.

There are many reports of male victims who do come forward being treated with suspicion, if not downright hostility. They claim to not have been believed, and that they were considered as abusers who were denial. Even when they are treated sympathetically, the next problem they encounter is that there are either nil or minimal services (e.g. beds in shelters) or assistance available to men, and particularly men accompanied by children.

When this mantra of ‘DV=men’s violence towards women’ is disseminated through the community via the media it encourages the view that men are inherently violent, and that should you see a man involved in a violent incident with a woman then the man is immediately assumed to be the instigator and perpetrator of violence.

This is clearly demonstrated in the videos available at

We need to mandate rigorous evaluation for existing programs as well as trialling new approaches

I believe that there is a role for educational messages but that these should be gender-neutral.[13] The community should be truthfully informed that there are both male and female perpetrators, that there are male and female victims, and that in many cases both partners engage in violence and abuse. The community should be told that any/all violence or abuse in the home is inappropriate and harmful for everyone involved, and particularly for those children who witness that abuse.

I believe that there is no legitimate objective basis for addressing in isolation, let alone focusing resources on, any one particular group of victims or abusers. In particular I object to the current gender-based approaches to addressing domestic violence. I say deal with the whole problem. Fix the whole problem.

I believe that agencies or organizations active in the DV field should provide services, counselling and support to both male and female perpetrators and male and female victims. I believe that government funds should be allocated where they will be most effective, and that this may mean that most funds are directed towards government agencies who provide practical assistance, rather than to advocacy groups paying PR/marketing firms to develop and implement costly ‘shame and blame’ campaigns of dubious value.

The need for good governance and accountability amongst DV service providers  

Victorians deserve good governance, transparency and accountability with regards to public funds directed towards the fight against domestic violence.

It is a sad fact that when society places a particular group of people on a pedestal then the result is often a scandal, as normal common-sense oversight is relaxed, criticism quashed, people abused or taken advantage of, and public funds misspent or otherwise wasted. Unfortunately I believe that we are now beginning to see this happening within organizations driven by feminist ideology, and particularly in the field of domestic violence.

Millions of dollars of taxpayer funds and donations are already being poured into the fight against domestic violence, and this is rapidly increasing. A large proportion of this money is subsequently finding its way to feminist advocacy groups like ‘Our Watch’ and ‘White Ribbon Australia’. [14]

We want to think that throwing money at a problem will make it go away, and that high-profile and politically-savvy advocacy groups should be well-positioned to use funds to good effect. There is a time to make decisions with the head and not the heart (or with an eye on short-term PR value), and the fight against domestic violence is such an example.

The Government should consider whether more might be achieved by greater funding of government agencies providing direct assistance to those in need, rather than for example directing funds to a non-government organization who may direct funds towards salaries, rent, conferences and securing the services of marketing/PR firms.[15]

This topic was recently addressed by well-known Canadian activist Karen Straughan:

“Violence against women in any form has been a HUGE cash cow for feminism. The more they inflate their claims regarding its pervasiveness in society, the more money pours in, and the more power they have to tinker with legislation and policy. Because it is such an emotionally charged subject, any rational scepticism of these claims (as to whether they are true in the first place, or whether feminists are accurate in their estimates of pervasiveness), is easily deflected by attacking the sceptic.”

You can demonstrate until the cows come home just how much certain feminists are profiting from generating an inflated fear of violence against women among the public (the average [almost always feminist] director of a battered women’s shelter here in Alberta rakes in over $100k/year, and in the US, that number can be significantly higher), and people won’t care, because ending violence against women is THAT important. They won’t see the people who claim to be working to end it as the exploitative con-artists or ideologically driven religious inquisitors that they are. If you point out that a very lucrative industry has formed around these issues, and that like any organic entity, this industry will work to sustain and grow itself rather than the other way around, you get called a conspiracy theorist. Even though none of these claims require a conspiracy to be valid–all they require is human nature.” [16]  

My recommendations to the Royal Commission

1. First and foremost, I would implore the Commissioners to consider this submission, and the linked references contained within it, with an open mind and in an objective manner. Indeed I am very much aware of the ‘elephant in the room’ that is feminist doctrine, and of the combative ‘us and them’ approach often adopted by adherents to that movement. But as is usually the case, we can and must find a middle path that will lead us to a fair and workable solution to the scourge of family violence.

Please be open to the possibility that the limited success achieved to date in addressing DV may be due in part to shortcomings in both the philosophical approach that is driving current efforts, and the fixed attitudes and preconceived notions of many of those tasked with addressing the issue.

2. Please evaluate and modify all documents and web content produced by relevant agencies in order to identify and remove any bias that might be present in relation to gender or sexual orientation. None of this material should pre-judge who is or might be the perpetrator or the victim in the relationship, or their motivation for coming forward to seek help.

3. Ensure that possible bias in relation to gender or sexual orientation is removed from survey instruments and that research methodology is carefully vetted in order to ensure accurate, unbiased and truly representative findings.

4. Evaluate and adjust the composition of relevant sections within agencies, committees, and panels dealing with DV issues so that, as far as practicable, they are representative of the broader community, particularly in relation to gender and sexual orientation.

At the moment it is my impression that many such groups are currently overwhelmingly comprised of people in a very narrow demographic, typically tertiary-educated women aged 25-45 who identify as feminists. It is highly probable that this is introducing a degree of bias which could limit the scope of approaches being considered or undertaken to address the problem of family violence.

5. Initiate policies and procedures to ensure good governance and the cost-effective use of public monies related to combating DV. Grants should stipulate the need for key performance indicators, gender neutrality and natural justice, together with requirements for performance reviews and auditing. It is also important that any budget committee, steering committees or similar should contain representatives who are completely independent, in a financial sense, from any of the matters being considered. It would be naïve to assume, given the huge amounts of money directed towards domestic violence at the state and federal level, that there was no potential for financial considerations or self-interest to influence decisions regarding expenditure priorities.

6. Evaluate and adjust the allocation of funding and resources so that it is in accordance with the reality of the domestic violence problem in its entirety. In the first instance this would almost certainly necessitate additional resources being directed towards male victims of domestic violence and counseling for female perpetrators of violence.

7. The manner in which the welfare of abused men has been largely ignored in the case of family violence is indicative, in part, of the lack of effective (or in fact, any) advocacy for the interests of men and boys within the spheres of both federal and state government.

This contrasts strongly with the situation for women where there are generously-funded agencies, or at least sections within agencies, to address and advance the interests of women and girls. This may not be the time or place to consider this issue, but if we as a community sincerely aspire to gender equality, then this it is a disparity which should not continue to go unquestioned.



[2]–Pk25vBeHg (Donald Dutton video)





[7] See Conclusion


[9] See for example, See p687






[15] White Ribbon Australia is simply provided here as an example of a NGO active in the DV field, and for which financial records are publicly available and


Some of the media coverage that followed the closing date for public submissions:

Submissions to family violence royal commission reveal a fragmented system (14 July 2015)

The family violence royal commission must tackle these four issues to succeed (13 July 2015) Surprisingly balanced article … for The Guardian

Day one of royal commission into family violence to focus on victims and causes (13 July 2015)

Andrews Government plans tough new laws to fight family violence (1 June 2015)

Family violence royal commission: New domestic violence offence suggested in Victoria ahead of inquiry (1 June 2015)

See also:

Royal commission report into family violence “will change everything” (30 March 2016) Provides some details of the report released today. A link to final report provided on this page.

So who misled the Victorian Royal Commission? (16 December 2015) Reddit mensrights discussion thread

Here is a link to the submission to the Inquiry that was prepared by the One in Three organisation

Here is a link to my submission within the Commission’s web site

The report’s not released yet but funds made ready for pouring into the coffers of the Domestic Violence Industry (23 March 2016)

Minister Fentiman’s response to my concerns regarding the ‘Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an end to domestic and family violence in Queensland’ report

My submission to the Queensland Premier’s Taskforce inquiry can be found here, and my response to the Taskforce’s subsequent report can be found here.

There was no formal public review process for considering feedback in relation to the final report and the Task Force Secretariat has been disbanded. As far I am aware the report’s recommendations were simply handed on to the Premier and the relevant committee for further consideration and subsequent implementation (in full or part).

That being the case I pressed both the Premier, and the Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety, for a response to my response to the report. I also passed on a copy of my feedback to each member of the Committee, and the Committee Secretariat.

I have today (7 May 2015) just received the first response to my enquiries:

“Thank you for your email regarding the ‘Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an end to domestic and family violence in Queensland’ report, produced by the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence. The Honourable Shannon Fentiman MP, Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, has asked me to respond to you on her behalf.

I appreciate your concern for men who have experienced domestic and family violence. No-one deserves to live in fear of their partner or ex-partner. There can however, be no doubt that the overwhelming majority of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women. I acknowledge your point about the importance of reducing the levels of violence in the wider community, and addressing domestic and family violence is a significant part of that effort. The Queensland Government takes the issue of domestic and family violence very seriously, and is giving careful consideration to the recommendations in the Taskforce Report, and to the evidence supporting the findings. Delivering responses that are evidence-based is important, and there is a growing body of knowledge around how we can improve responses to this critical issue that claims so many lives across the country.

Sustainable responses to domestic and family violence require government agencies to work together with the broader community to create change, support communities to speak out against violence in the home, and to assist those affected, whether male or female.

The department funds a range of services for women, men and children affected by domestic and family violence. These services include Mensline, a statewide telephone counselling ad referral service offering specialist support for men on a range of issues, including domestic and family violence.

Thank you again for sharing your perspective on this issue. If you require any further information or assistance in relation to this matter, please contact Ms Sue Coxon, Manager, Violence Prevention Team, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services on 3006 8832.

Yours sincerely

Cynthia Kennedy, Chief of Staff
Office of the Minister for Communities, Women and Youth”

I plan to now prepare a response to this email.

My response to the report of the Queensland Task Force on Family Violence

Ms. Annastacia Palaszczuk MP
Premier of Queensland and Minister for the Arts

Dear Premier

As you are aware, the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence released its report entitled ‘Not Now Not Ever’ on 28 February 2015. I am one of many people who earlier contributed a submission for consideration by the Task Force. I have now reviewed the Task Force’s report and wish to provide you with my thoughts on it.

Firstly some general observations

  • My first impression of the report was favourable in that its tone was generally inclusive and gender neutral in comparison to the more overt anti-male bias of many other reports regarding domestic violence (DV), such as The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2010-2022. The weakness of the Bryce report though was that the words were not followed-up with conclusions and recommendations when it came to the issue of female perpetration and male victimisation. In addition, there were many things left unsaid in relation to these aspects of DV that should have been addressed.
  • No mention was made in the report of the extent of anti-male bias in the pre-existing debate concerning DV, nor for example of the corresponding lack of resources devoted to male victims. Likewise no mention was made of the puzzling lack of family violence perpetrator intervention initiatives provided for violent or abusive women.
  • The report continues the trend of earlier reports in that it features an inflated emphasis and reliance on communication/education/awareness programs, without properly justifying what had been achieved to date – nor what gains might be predicted in the future. This is confusing as the problem does not seem to be that people are unaware of domestic violence, as was confirmed in the focus groups. How and why will more “awareness” result in lower rates of perpetration? Has this been achieved in Australia? In any other countries? Indeed no effort was made to detail the full extent of previous expenditure in this area, either absolutely or relative to total government expenditure related to DV.
  • The fact that a document word search of the Task Force’s report, using the terms ‘male survivor’ ‘male victim’ or ‘female perpetrator’, returned no results is indicative of the extent of gender bias present therein.
  • I am curious as to why copies of public submissions were not made available online (except of course those people who sought anonymity). Publishing submissions, as for example occurred with the federal Senate Inquiry, would have been consistent with the desire for awareness raising advanced in the report. I have no doubt that there would have been many submissions lodged that, like my own, challenged the dominant feminist narrative regarding DV. It is of concern that no extracts/quotes from such submissions featured within the body of the report, and that all of the references cited were written by those adopting and promoting a pro-feminist perspective. It appears, for all intents and purposes, that all such submissions were simply swept aside.
  • There is a major anomaly in that no ’round table’ was held with members of mens/fathers groups, yet special meetings were held with (for example) members of the Indian and African communities? This despite the fact that the need to involve men was stressed within the body of the report, and that men comprise a substantial number of the victims of DV.
  • It was pleasing to see that the LGBTI community was included in the discussion, as was the issue of elder abuse. Given the latter however I am unclear why (non-sexual) child abuse that occurred in the home was not also discussed in the report. Was this decision made because the pattern of perpetration was at odds with the dominant feminist narrative?

Comments in relation to specific matters raised in the report

Foreword: “Today there are more than 300 women’s refuges around Australia and there have been many advances in the past 40 years in how we deal with domestic abuse”

Why was there no mention of how many beds in refuges are currently available for men?

“It is through listening, sharing and understanding the experiences of those subjected to abuse and violence that we can start to understand how we can put an end to violence, and the action that must be taken.”

And yet no serious effort was made in the report to listen to and understand the circumstances of male victims, and men generally.

Executive Summary:On average, across Australia, one woman is killed by her partner every week.” (p6)

Why was no mention made of the corresponding number of male victims?

“Initiatives such as White Ribbon (a male-led campaign) and Australia’s CEO Challenge (a workplace domestic violence prevention program) are driving campaigns to break the silence surrounding domestic and family violence.”

Yet no attempt was made to quantify the extent to which rates of perpetration have been affected. Does simply “breaking the silence” actually help survivors? Especially when the ‘awareness’ campaign relentlessly drive home a gender-biased and blame-ridden message of ‘men are violent/women are their victims’?

“The majority of people who experience domestic and family violence in Queensland are women. This is not to say that women cannot be the perpetrators of fear and violence upon male victims.”

On a positive note it was pleasing to see that the Task Force did not follow suit and use the misleading phrase “overwhelming majority” as has featured in many other similar reports.

“Men can be and are victims of violence and coercive control, and are victims of domestic and family violence homicides. Any domestic and family violence, regardless of who the victim and perpetrator are, is unacceptable.”

It transpired that this is/was essentially the report’s sole concession to specifically recognising the existence of male victims and their right to be heard and to receive support.

“The Taskforce recommends that Government commission specific reviews into the impacts of domestic and family violence for two targeted vulnerable groups – people with a disability and the elderly. There is a distinct lack of sound and helpful evidence on the impact of domestic and family violence for these two groups, and the Taskforce strongly believes that more is needed to understand the needs and dynamics of elderly and disabled victims”.

The inclusion of these two groups is to be applauded, but men should also have been included and discussed as an at-risk minority for the same reasons as given for including the other minority victim groups.

“The attitudes, knowledge and beliefs of individuals and communities can and do create a culture that justifies, excuses, perhaps trivialises or even condones or encourages domestic violence.”

I disagree with this assessment. Later in the report the Task Force offers, as its sole supporting evidence, the findings of a national survey that did not even bother to ask questions about the community’s views about violence towards men. Thus its findings were compromised by the lack of statistical context or any valid point of comparison.

(p8) “Culture and attitudes affect the ability of victims to report violence and seek help, and influence the willingness of the community to hold perpetrators to account. It affects the behaviour of the professionals within our police, justice, welfare and service-provider systems when called on to deal with and respond to domestic and family violence. Importantly, culture and attitudes inform and influence the decisions of bystanders to either intervene or ignore incidents of domestic and family violence.”

This is highly applicable to the situation of male victims yet no mention was made of them in this regard – a further reason why men should have been included as an at risk minority and consulted with via a separate round-table meeting.

(p12) “Leaving a violent partner or home situation is a difficult step for a victim. If a victim does not know where to go, or does not feel understood or supported by a service, or worse, if there is no service for the particular need, the victim may return to the violence and not try to leave again. Compassionate, coordinated responses provide much needed support to victims trying to leave and will ensure greater success than disjointed and disengaged services can.”

It would have been highly relevant to note here the fact that many helplines and related web pages pointedly assume that male callers are perpetrators and female callers are victims. All such information, and such services, should be made non-judgemental and gender neutral. 

(p13) “Much of the focus in this report and elsewhere is placed on victims, but cultural change needs to happen to stop perpetrators from using violence and coercive control in their relationships. Any integrated service response must include programs to address perpetrator behaviour and hold perpetrators to account”.

Why was no mention made of the need for perpetrator programs for violent women? There is a cultural problem with the community ‘looking the other way’ in relation to abusive women and the Task Force report only perpetuates that situation. 

No male perspectives were provided in section 3, and Section 3.3 made no mention of the mens/fathers rights perspective put forward in any of the submissions. This section of the report was given over to advancing one ideology, and one alone, that being gender feminism.

(p105) “Training and games provide opportunities to engage boys and men in conversations and actions around understanding domestic and family violence, without the involvement of women and in a traditional or stereotyped ‘masculine’ environment. Just starting the conversations will make significant steps toward changing attitudes and behaviours.”

This implies that men/boys are the problem and/or that girls don’t play sport, and/or that sporting venues constitute a “a traditional or stereotyped ‘masculine’ environment”. This is inaccurate, unhelpful, and simply conforming to dated stereotypes. Why not have the same program for girls/women? Why could this not have been written as: 

‘Training and games provide opportunities to engage adults and children in conversations and actions around understanding domestic and family violence, without the involvement of members of the opposite gender’

(p142) “Further, in the National Crime Prevention Survey, one in four young Australians admitted having witnessed physical domestic violence against their mother and/or step-mother”.

It would have been more appropriate to report that ‘23% of young people between the ages of 12 and 20 years had witnessed an incident of physical violence against their mother/stepmother and 22% against their father/stepfather’ (Source)

(p151) “Alarmingly, the most recent national survey about community attitudes towards violence against women revealed that significant numbers of Australians believe there are circumstances in which violence can be excused. More than 1 in 5 agreed that partner violence can be excused if the person is genuinely regretful afterward (21%) or if they temporarily lost control (22%). These statistics are disturbing and indicate attitudes that trivialise violence by suggesting that violence against a partner can be excused. There is no excuse for domestic and family violence”.

It should have been noted that this survey did not ask about community attitudes towards violence towards men, thus there is no context in which the results may be interpreted. If the surveyors had bothered to ask about men, they might well have found that the community was even more complacent about violence towards men than women. This is not to suggest that any such complacency is good/better, but rather that the issue is one of social attitudes towards violence generally rather than sexism towards women.

(p152) Both Our Watch and White Ribbon ignore female perpetration of violence. There are other groups working in the field that hold a different perspective. Why was no mention made, for example, of the One in Three organisation?

(p154) “We will only achieve long-term and lasting change if we address the causes of domestic violence. International evidence shows the causes are complex – unequal distribution of power and resources between men and women, rigid or narrow gender roles and stereotypes, and a culture and attitudes that support violence” 

The two references cited to support this assertion were written by a hardline feminist researcher and a feminist advocacy group. Feminists rely heavily on a theory known as the ‘Duluth Model’ in their approach to DV. Whether or not the factors they mention are, in fact, the primary “contributing factors” is highly debatable. Alternative perspectives should have been provided in this section of the report, in order to provide a more thorough and more balanced coverage of the topic. An example of an alternative perspective worthy of consideration is presented in this article.  

(p155) “The most recent data released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics in August 2014 shows a widening of the wages gap between men and women in Australia with women currently earning 18.2% less than men.”

This is an average figure for all men and all women and cannot and should not be extrapolated as an indicator of gender bias or discrimination. The so-called gender gap is a complex issue and one that is routinely misrepresented by feminist advocacy groups

(p156 and again at p162-167) “There appears to be a significant gap between an individual’s belief that the violence is wrong, and the willingness to talk about the violence or take action to do something about it.”

It would have been relevant to note that this gap is greater in the case of people witnessing a man being assaulted than in the case of a woman

(p159-160) Mention should have been made of the fact that the media focuses overwhelmingly on male-perpetrated domestic violence, and on promoting a view that only men are responsible for such behaviour. This mirrors the message disseminated in most existing education/awareness campaigns such as those mentioned in the Task Force’s report.

(p171) “It is crucial for men to show leadership in the community in their actions to prevent domestic violence and to address the social and cultural causes of domestic violence. It is also important for them to demonstrate the value of healthy and respectful relationships.” Surely the same could, and in fact should, be said about women? Why wasn’t it?

(p173) The White Ribbon ‘breaking the silence’ campaign has been criticized for only focussing on the responsibilities of boys to treat members of the other gender with respect. It basically shames boys for being male and let’s girls ‘off the hook’ entirely in terms of how they act towards boys. This is not gender equality, it is gender bias or sexism.

(p176-179) This section is unbalanced and excessively influenced by feminist ideology. It absolves women of any responsibility whilst pushing all responsibility onto men (despite the fact that it admits that few men commit violence against their partners)

Domestic violence is a men’s issue because their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and friends are being harmed. We know that most men do not commit violent acts in the home, however their attitudes are pivotal to accountability and responsibility for that violence because the majority of violence against women is perpetrated by men.”

Instead of that wording, why not this version instead?

Domestic violence is a women’s issue because their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons and friends are being harmed. We know that most women do not commit violent acts in the home, however their attitudes are pivotal to accountability and responsibility for that violence because a substantial proportion of violence against men is perpetrated by women.

Women must also challenge violence committed by other women!

Some further revised wording for the Government’s consideration:

‘There are three key forms of action that people can take in helping to reduce and prevent intimate partner violence:

  • Avoiding the personal use of violence against their partner
  • Intervening in the violence of other people
  • Addressing the social and cultural causes of violence’

(p235) Currently, there are 14 services funded by the Queensland Government to provide perpetrator intervention initiatives for the following regions: Townsville; Mount Isa; Gold Coast; Murgon; Toowoomba; Rockhampton; Brisbane; Cairns; Roma; Maroochydore; Ipswich; and Logan. In addition, there are two services funded by the Commonwealth”.

How many of these cater for violent women? Any of them? Surely this is relevant to the discussion?

Comments in relation to the Task Force’s recommendations

17. It was most pleasing to note that the monitoring and evaluation of programs was identified as a priority area

18-23. These recommendations demonstrate an excessive emphasis/reliance on communications. How will this help? Apart from just sounding good? No clear nexus between spending money here and actually fixing the problem

24-29. It should have been made clear that such programs should be aimed at both boys and girls (re: respecting the other gender) and not simply a platform for anti-male messaging.

Why was there no suggestion of using female role models? This goes against the general thrust of the report, and implies that it is only male behaviour that is the problem, and that no effort/adjustment is needed on the part of women/girls

31-37. The recommendations in relation to domestic violence leave should have clearly identified that both men and women would be eligible for such leave

67-70. The names of alleged perpetrators and victims should be protected to the same extent. If the victim’s name is withheld until such time as a conviction is recorded, then so to should the alleged perpetrators name be protected from publication

“… reviews and updates the Professional Practice Standards: Working with men who perpetrate domestic and family violence”.

To be consistent with the general thrust of the report it would have been desirable to have this document reviewed and re-launched as Professional Practice Standards: Working with PEOPLE who perpetrate domestic and family violence OR have a separate document written for female perpetrators. To do otherwise is simply to unquestioningly accept an unacceptable and gender-biased status quo.

84-88. Why was no mention made of the existing supply of and demand for shelter beds for male victims?

96-98. Why was no mention made of the fact that this type of specialist court has just been de-funded by the WA Government as they were found to be counter-productive? (Source)


The continued focus on the feminist perspective towards domestic violence, and the exclusion of other perspectives that are equally or perhaps even more valid, is deeply troubling.

Mens violence towards women is a very important issue, but at the same time we must remain mindful of the fact that it is but one component part of a bigger issue. Everyone is important and we need to focus on achieving a reduction in violence to adults and children whether they be male, female or transgender.

I believe that real gains will elude us until such time that we adopt a holistic, practical and non-ideological approach to this most pressing and complex social problem.

Yet another Australian inquiry into domestic violence (Victoria)

A newly-installed government in Victoria has announced not just an inquiry, but a Royal Commission, into domestic violence. A Royal Commission is a hugely expensive exercise which shall directly and indirectly pump lots more money into the coffers of the Australian domestic violence industry. It has been suggested that the Royal Commission will take one year and AUD$50 million to complete (Source).

Bearing in mind the findings of earlier inquiries including Queensland (only released late February 2015), plus the ongoing federal inquiry, I am highly sceptical as to the cost-effectiveness of the Victorian exercise. Even the staunchly pro-feminist advocacy group, White Ribbon Australia, have expressed similar sentiments.

The Victorian Royal Commission will be chaired by Justice Marcia Neave, with support from Deputy Commissioners Tony Nicholson and Patricia Faulkner, and will be tasked with finding the most effective ways to:

  • Prevent family violence
  • Improve early intervention to identify and protect those at risk
  • Support victims
  • Make perpetrators accountable
  • Improve the way the Government and society work together

An article that appeared in the Herald-Sun began with:

“WOMEN will be given the chance to tell their harrowing stories with Australia’s first Royal Commission into Family Violence expected to begin in February.”

The author, Alex White, is thus either ignorant of the existence of male victims of DV or perhaps believes that they are simply not worth hearing from. Alex concludes with the erroneous statement, “It will be the first government backed family violence inquiry in Australia’s history.”

One only hopes, most probably in vain – that this inquiry might generate unbiased discussion leading to sensible fair and effective measures to reduce violence.

A copy of the original media release entitled ‘Nothing Off Limits in Family Violence Royal Commission‘ is here. It sounded promising, appearing as it did to be written in a gender-neutral manner.

The terms of reference are here, and unfortunately the bias emerges with old feminist clangers like:

“While both men and women can be perpetrators or victims of family violence, overwhelmingly the majority of perpetrators are men and victims are women and children.” (This statement was addressed in another blog post)

“The causes of family violence are complex and include gender inequality and community attitudes towards women” (except for the fact the couples with the greatest propensity to partner violence are lesbian couples)

“For women and children, family violence has extensive and often long term physical, psychological and emotional consequences” (for men it’s just one long holiday)

The web site for the Royal Commission is at

Update 1 June 2015: The closing date for submissions was Friday, 29 May 2015. A copy of my submission can be found here.

See also:

One woman a week dies at the hands of her partner or ex-partner. New ways of tackling domestic homicide (29 March 2015) Feminist perspective that ignores female perpetration, and which almost certainly sets the scene for the deliberations of the Royal Commission

Explainer: Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence (27 February 2015)

Royal Commission into family violence terms of reference released (20 January 2015) Includes 90+ readers comments

Premier Daniel Andrews vows tough new laws to stop family violence (24 February 2015)