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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 723 ..

In bringing about reform, there are many aspects and angles to come at this. Mrs Jones’s motion focuses on the frontline services that work with people who have experienced sexual assault. We need to be looking at best practice in other jurisdictions and internationally in the models of service we offer. As expressed in the motion, perhaps flexible, mobile models of support are appropriate in some contexts. Earlier this week I met with the ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner, Heidi Yates, the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre chief executive, Chrystina Stanford, and associate professor and director of sexual health and forensic medicine Dr Vanita Parekh to hear their concerns and priorities for improving sexual assault services and support provisions in the ACT. These are women at the front line of this work.

A key message that came from that meeting was that we need to lead with a message of hope. This in itself is challenging because survivors of these crimes, at times, can feel so isolated, so alone and so hopeless. I want to flip this; I want the perpetrators of these crimes to feel no hope and no control. They know what they did; what they do not know is when they might be called out, exposed, charged. I want them to fester in a world of uncertainty.

To the victim survivors, I want you to feel hope, to be secure in the knowledge that what happened to you was wrong; it was a criminal act. I want you to know that you will be supported to move forward with your lives. I would like to finish with a quote from Grace Tame:

When we share, we heal, reconnect and grow, both as individuals and as a united, strengthened collective. History, lived experience, the whole truth, unsanitised and unedited, is our greatest learning resource.

Amendments agreed to.

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (3.37): I move:

(1) Add to paragraph (2):

“(f) consider whether resourcing for, and the development of, specialist expertise within the ACT Policing of the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Team is adequate.”

I wish to speak to the extremely important issues raised in Mrs Jones’s motion—the accessibility, appropriateness and timeliness of the services we offer to people who have experienced sexual assault. The ACT Greens will proudly be supporting this motion.

One in five women from the age of 15 has experienced sexual violence. In 2018-19 the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that 97 per cent of sexual violence offenders were men. There is no doubt that sexual violence is an issue of gendered violence, of violence predominantly experienced by women at the hands of men.

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