2CC Canberra - Bushfire preparedness and domestic violence

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25 November 2021

RADIO INTERVIEW – 2CC talking Canberra – Breakfast with Stephen Cenatiempo
Thursday 25 November 2021

SUBJECT: Bushfire preparedness and domestic violence

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, PRESENTER: Eden-Monaro MP Kristy McBain is renewing her call for the government to be doing more for the Black Summer Bushfire victims, who are still some of them living in caravans. Kristy joins us now. Good morning Kristy.


CENATIEMPO: This seems to have become the central tenet of your time as the Federal Member for Eden-Monaro, something that you probably shouldn't have to be worrying about.

MCBAIN: Well, the last time I stood up in Parliament, I actually said I dread having to do it. I hate being the face of bushfires. And I hate being, the face of doom and gloom. But we've got people still significantly suffering. And, I speak to people every day in my electorate, who still have serious issues following on from bushfires, and they should be addressed. It shouldn't be a matter of having to put forward every time you're in parliament that there are people still suffering and this government isn't doing enough to assist.

CENATIEMPO: So what’ the problem here? Because the government has allocated funds to this, why are they not getting through to the people that need it?

MCBAIN: The latest round of funding is called Preparing Australia's Communities and it’s a mitigation fund, which we all agree on. And I think it could be fantastic for so many of our communities. They have listed priority local government areas for bushfire and flood out of the six LGAs I represent, only two said they are considered bushfire priority areas, even though we lost homes, land and livelihoods in five of those LGAs. And none of them are flood priority listed, even though since 2016, we've had 36 declared natural disasters. So this is a fund that could make a world of difference for people who are still going through trauma who want to be prepared for the next disaster.

CENATIEMPO: But it doesn't help those that are suffering from the last one.

MCBAIN: No it doesn’t.  

CENATIEMPO: So is there any assistance available for these people?

MCBAIN: There is there is no money that goes directly to those people that are impacted from the federal government. They've received $1,000 from the government if they rang Centrelink immediately after the disaster to register. That's basically all the money that's been received by people who have lost their homes.

CENATIEMPO: So people will have lost their homes. Do the insurers need to pick up some of the slack here too?

MCBAIN: Insurance is obviously paying out people who were insured. We've got charities that have assisted numerous people across the electorate. But in terms of direct government support, it’s largely missing for those people directly impacted.

CENATIEMPO: So what in your view, needs to happen and who's responsible?

MCBAIN: I talk to a lot of people across the electorate, one man in particular, who says to me, there's so much focus on mental health and so much money that's gone into mental health funding. His view is that if he had a permanent home, if he could get into a home on his property then that would greatly assist his mental health. So I think there's a disconnect between what people are actually asking for and what is being funded through the government.

CENATIEMPO: Okay. And so from a ministerial level, who is the person that should be stepping up here?

MCBAIN: It's now Bridget McKenzie.

CENATIEMPO: Well, we'll follow this up, Kristy to see what we can do from our end. Now. Just quickly, before I let you go, you've also met with housing providers in Queanbeyan, about domestic violence. Now, the Labor opposition has actually done quite a bit of policy work in this area, talk us through how those meetings went?

MCBAIN: we know that a lot of our services are seeing an increase in volume. Housing has become a big issue. And obviously, increasing incidents of domestic violence during the COVID period. The Labor Party will commit funding to an additional 500 community sector workers to support women in crisis that can be direct domestic violence services or general services. We've committed money to 4000 social housing units, specifically to go to women and children fleeing domestic violence. And we will implement a family domestic and sexual violence commissioner to actually hold governments to account over the national plan. I think it's every two minutes, there's a triple zero call to police for assistance for domestic violence. This is becoming a huge issue right across this country, and it needs to be addressed like it is the biggest issue happening across the country.

CENATIEMPO: It's certainly one of those things that  obviously a lot of it comes under the auspices of state governments, but we do need a national approach so that we at least have uniform responses to another that's. So I've got to applaud because we actually spoke earlier in the week about the Labor policy and I think it goes a long way. I just wonder whether 500 is enough. It's one of those problems that seems to be getting bigger every time we talk about it.

MCBAIN: Yeah, that's right. Hopefully it's a good start and hopefully we start to see a change in this sector because it's deeply needed.

CENATIEMPO: Indeed, Kristy, always good to talk to you. Thanks for your time.

MCBAIN: Thanks, Stephen.

CENATIEMPO: Kristy McBain the Federal Member for Eden-Monaro.