"The Premier is right, we need to put so much more effort into prevention – to treat the causes, not just pick up the broken pieces after a tragedy": Pru Goward. Photo: Peter Stoop
The country's first dedicated domestic violence minister has promised to radically shift the government's focus to preventing violence rather than "picking up the broken pieces after a tragedy".
Pru Goward was appointed Australia's first Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault on Wednesday, in addition to her roles as Minister for Women, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Medical Research and Assistant Minister for Health. Ms Goward will be sworn in today, along with the state's first female Treasurer (Gladys Berejilkian) and Attorney-General (Gabriel Upton).
"Ever since Malcolm Fraser funded the first domestic violence shelters in the 1970s, the focus has been heavily on managing the effects of domestic violence," Ms Goward told Fairfax Media in her first comments as the new minister.
"The Premier is right, we need to put so much more effort into prevention – to treat the causes, not just pick up the broken pieces after a tragedy."
Ms Goward, who lost the portfolio of planning, already faces a tough battle to reverse the increasing toll of NSW women killed by their partners.
Her appointment came two days after Bexley mother-of-four Salwa Haydar, 45, was stabbed to death, allegedly at the hands of her husband, Haydar Haydar.
Of the seven domestic violence murders in NSW this year, five have been women allegedly killed by intimate partners, according to police data.
It equates to almost one a fortnight compared to just over one woman a month last year.
Mrs Haydar, a counsellor at St Vincent's Hospital's Quitline, had been suffering clear abuse for many years, a close friend alleged.
She had recently left her husband and had only just started to build some confidence before she was repeatedly stabbed in her Valda Street home, said the friend, who didn't want to be identified.
She had not applied for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order but had confided to friends about her situation.
Colleagues of Mrs Haydar said she was a gentle woman and a hard worker with strong morals. They said she was brave and strong for ending her relationship.
"[She was] a very warm woman with a very intact moral compass," one colleague posted online.
Another described her as "a most beautiful woman. Strong, brave, hardworking, and passionate."
Mr Haydar, a taxi driver who had returned from a funeral in Lebanon on Monday, had often posted his own sermons or musings on social media about controlling one's anger and walking away from violence.
Violence against women and children has become such a pressing issue in the community that the government made a pre-election commitment to create a dedicated ministerial portfolio.
The eradication of domestic violence needs a "voice at the cabinet table, and a person dedicated to taking leadership on these issues and ensuring they remain front and centre", Premier Mike Baird said last month.
One of Ms Goward's first tasks will be establishing the promised Domestic Violence Offenders Registry, allowing women to apply to check a partner's previous history of violence.
The Greens said last month that a domestic violence minister would be a welcome step but there were more pressing issues, such as increasing funding for prevention strategies and rolling back the flawed Going Home, Staying Home reform.
with Emma Partridge