By Adam Carey and
Benjamin Preiss/ The Age
Natalie Hutchins has been sworn in as Victoria’s Minister for Women and the Prevention of Family Violence, in a step she believes she has spent much of her career preparing for.
One of the Sydenham member’s first acts upon becoming a Victorian MP seven years ago was to commission a report into family violence in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs.
In her research she sat for two days in the Sunshine Magistrates Court and observed scores of domestic violence cases.
“It made me realise that it is a jigsaw puzzle of reasons as to why we have such high levels of family violence in various pockets across Victoria,” Ms Hutchins said last week.
“That comes down to respect issues in our community … and the unequal circumstances that many women face, who have not had the economic security to be able to flee a situation.”
Ms Hutchins nominated the state government’s promised rollout of 17 safety hubs for women and children, at a cost of $448 million, as one of her most urgent tasks.
She replaces Fiona Richardson, who was Australia’s first minister for the prevention of family violence, after Ms Richardson’s death from cancer last month.
The two women sat side by side on the government’s front bench. “Fiona and I had many long late-night conversations in the Parliament about these issues,” she said.
“One thing I’ve learnt from Fiona is to always stand up for what you believe in.”
Marlene Kairouz replaces Ms Hutchins as Minister for Local Government and was also sworn in last week.