Former senator Natasha Stott Despoja has been appointed to head South Australia’s Royal Commission into Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence.

The South Australian government announced plans for an inquiry in December last year, following the deaths of six South Australians from alleged family and domestic violence.

Ms Stott Despoja was the founding chair of Our Watch, a national foundation to prevent family violence, and has held several international roles promoting the rights of women and children.

The royal commission will begin in July and is expected to take 12 months.

It will examine five key themes aligned with the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2023, the state government said.

They include prevention, early intervention, response, recovery and healing and coordination.

Ms Stott Despoja said she hoped to soon present findings to the government that will save lives. 

“The most important thing I believe that I will bring to this commission is a drive to see the elimination of violence against women in South Australia, my home state, and well beyond,” she said.

“It’s about getting it done right, and so we will do everything in our power to stick to deadline.

“Violence against women and children is preventable. That’s the good news. It’s not an inherent part of the biological condition.”

Ms Stott Despoja said looking at the evidence would inform the next steps in addressing gender inequality, violence and disrespect.

‘Eradication — that’s my aim’

She added that the process would take time, but that she was confident the royal commission would make a positive difference.

“Surely none of us can accept a society in which every week on average a woman is murdered — that’s not acceptable,” she said.

“I’m sure the commission is going to come up with, and I’m not going to pre-empt, ways we can all make changes everywhere we live, love, learn, work and play — because that is how we address the fundamental issues that cause disrespect and can lead to violence against women and children particularly.”

Premier Peter Malinauskas said he wanted to see the royal commission completed within a time frame of about 12 months.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Premier Peter Malinauskas said $3 million had been allocated to the royal commission.

He said addressing the issue would require “cultural change”.

“We’re not naive to the fact that it’s going to be complex — if it was simple it would have happened already,” he said.

“Complex problems require complex solutions, and more than just one.”

Mr Malinauskas described domestic and family violence as “a social ill” which destroyed lives and families, and had intergenerational consequences.

“[The commission’s clear mandate is] to deliver the government a suite of recommendations to enhance policy to diminish and reduce the rate and prevalence of domestic violence within our society,” he said.

Minister Katrine Hildyard said the state government was determined to help prevent domestic and family violence.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Katrine Hildyard said the prevalence of domestic violence in SA was “horrific”.

“This commission will help us to realise any further changes that we need to make, and it will bring us together as a state,” she said.

She added that it would give a voice to survivors and send a message to the community and men who perpetrate violence.

“There is absolutely no place for it in our community,” she said.

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