Petrusma’s key stand
HODGMAN Government minister Jacquie Petrusma has revealed her determination to eradicate family violence is driven by her past personal experience as a victim.
“If we’re truly going to have Tasmania the best state in which to live, work and raise a family, we have to truly tackle family violence, which affects women and men, boys and girls,” Mrs Petrusma said of her deeply personal mission.
MINISTER for Women Jacquie Petrusma has bravely revealed what has driven her years-long focus on eradicating family violence — her personal experience as a victim.
The Franklin Liberal MHA told the Sunday Tasma
nian she suffered abuse in a relationship prior to being elected to parliament in 2010 — a career change inspired by her experiences.
Mrs Petrusma, who worked as a registered nurse and in the pharmaceutical industry before becoming a politician, made it her mission upon being elected to Government in 2014 to drive cultural change so her children, grandchildren and all families could live in a better Tasmania.
“If we’re truly going to have Tasmania the best state in which to live, work and raise a family, we have to truly tackle family violence, which affects women and men, boys and girls,” Mrs Petrusma said.
Mrs Petrusma was handed the human services and women’s issues portfolios when the Liberals were first elected to government and said she knew she had to make family violence a tripartisan issue to effect real change. She met with now Greens leader Cassy O’Connor and former Labor premier Lara Giddings to plan how to best tackle family violence.
The trio worked closely on the issue, bringing their parties’ male leaders on board, penning opinion pieces for local newspapers and even starring in a local version of internationally renowned play The Vagina Monologues.
Ms Giddings, who has since retired from politics, commended Ms Petrusma on ensuring ongoing action to end family violence in Tasmania.
“It certainly was refreshing to have a minister who displayed a will to work with other parties on such a serious issue,” Ms Giddings said.
“I think the fact she was a survivor meant she saw the bigger picture.”
The Liberal Government released a family violence action plan in 2015 that was described at the time as nationleading. Safe Homes, Safe Families saw Tasmania take a whole-of-government approach to preventing and responding to family violence with the plan led by Premier Will Hodgman’s office.
Mr Hodgman has spoken of his passion for eradicating family violence with his Government pouring millions of dollars into addressing the issue. The Government is reviewing the plan a year earlier than scheduled and already has announced it will next year evolve to include a focus on sexual violence.
Former Women’s Legal Service chief executive Susan Fahey said the state’s family violence action plan was broadly supported among the community sector but required additional, secure and targeted funding.
She praised Mrs Petrusma for sharing her story.
“It takes a really high level of courage and personal conviction to do that because there are people in the community who would deride her for it — and wrongly so — but it shows her commitment,” Ms Fahey said.
Tasmania Police data shows reported incidents of family violence have increased since 2013-14, from 2414 reports in that year to 3385 in 2017-18. “An increase in incidents does not necessarily mean that family violence is increasing; it could also suggest an increase in reporting to police, which would be positive,” the force’s annual report said.
Ms Giddings yesterday said she was worried momentum was stalling on Tasmania’s response to family violence and urged the Government — and the community — to keep their eye on the ball.
Mrs Petrusma said she maintained her passion for building a better Tasmania and expressed her strong gratitude for the action taken on family violence so far, particularly thanking Mr Hodgman, Ms O’Connor and Ms Giddings.
The day in November, 2015, that Tasmanian Parliament stood together against family violence was the best day of her life, she said.