Full transcript below:
Mr PERRETT (Moreton—Opposition Whip) (16:36): The Women's Legal Service Queensland is located in Annerley, in my electorate of Moreton, but they assist women throughout Queensland—from Cape York down to Coolangatta and from Cunnamulla through to Caboolture. Last year, 11,000 Queensland women were assisted by Women's Legal, a service which is in such demand that 50 per cent of calls apparently go unanswered.
Women's Legal is at the front line of assisting women, especially those escaping domestic violence. But there is a crisis looming for Women's Legal Service. From 1 July, the Turnbull government is cutting their funding by 30 per cent. That will mean almost 4,000 highly vulnerable Queensland women experiencing domestic violence will not receive help when they finally get the courage to reach out for assistance. This will also mean the closure of the rural, regional and remote priority legal advice line and a reduction in the state-wide helpline's operating hours.
Women's Legal Service has raised funds themselves to try and assist as many women as they can, but they cannot do nearly enough fundraising to fill the gap of a 30 per cent cut to their funding. At least 71 women died as a result of domestic violence last year. What sort of government takes away the lifeline of women trying to flee domestic violence? A government that is out of touch. A government that does not consult with stakeholders. A government that does not reflect gender balance here in parliament. Women's Legal Service is teetering on the edge of a funding cliff. Time is running out. The Turnbull government needs to act immediately to give certainty to the lawyers and workers at this service and reverse its cruel funding cuts.