Page 1684 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 June 2022

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Domestic and family violence—safer families

Ministerial statement

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (10.09): Today I am tabling the sixth annual Safer Families ministerial statement. This statement shares with you the progress made in the 2021-22 financial year to support those in our community affected by domestic and family violence. My speech today is a summary of the full statement being tabled.

Before I go on, I note that sexual violence can occur in the context of domestic and family violence, and I will be speaking separately in the coming days on the issues of sexual violence. As such, today’s statement will focus largely on the significant achievements that the ACT government and community have made over the past 12 months to address domestic and family violence. The full statement being tabled contains more detail on these, so I will be brief.

This year, like the one before, has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. During this time, domestic and family violence has often been referred to as “the hidden pandemic”. I acknowledge all of those who have experienced domestic and family violence and who continue to live with the impact.

Today, I will use the term “victim-survivors”. I know this term does not work for everyone, and I use it respectfully, with that in mind. I wish to acknowledge those who have sought help and those who did not. No matter what victim-survivors may do or may not do, they are always deserving of safety, respect and support. I also acknowledge the extraordinary resilience, creativity, tenacity and compassion demonstrated by frontline services in providing supports during this time. Domestic and family violence services remained open throughout lockdown and beyond for anyone who did not feel safe at home.

In the past year the ACT government has expanded its focus on domestic and family violence to include the prevention of, and response to, sexual violence in our community. I will table a government response to the Listen. Take Action to Prevent, Believe and Heal report in the Assembly later this week. At that time, I will share more about the progress in responding to and preventing sexual violence. As such, I will use this statement to focus on initiatives to address domestic and family violence.

This year we have continued to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the ACT to progress implementation of the We Don’t Shoot Our Wounded report. As the ACT government, and as a nation, we have much work to do to address the continuing disproportionate rates of domestic and family violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Community consultations in 2020, led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group of the Domestic Violence Prevention Council, highlighted four recommendations from the report for priority implementation.

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