Page 1908 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022

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MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (10.32): I would like to start by thanking those who have spoken so far and those who, no doubt, will speak after me. Reform of this nature and of this level of impact insists on tripartisan support and collaborative work across this Assembly, and I am really encouraged that that has happened on this body of work and in this instance.

At the 2020 election the ACT Greens committed to an ACT-wide response to the family and domestic violence crisis and the elimination of violence against women and children. At this time we said that this response must be evidence based and well resourced to address primary prevention action and responsive to overlapping vulnerabilities.

The Listen. Take Action to Prevent, Believe and Heal report starts to address some of these commitments that the ACT Greens—and, I acknowledge, ACT Labor—went to the election with. I am pleased to see the government accepting many of the recommendations of the report. I was honoured to be invited to participate in the work that the task force undertook, including meeting with the chairs and sponsoring the participation of the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation.

One thing that I am particularly pleased to see is the social approach to policy regarding preventing domestic violence. Often we see government approaches to domestic violence policy that spruik strengthening responsive actions as opposed to systemic reform. Whilst the responsive capability of domestic violence agencies is an essential part of the government’s approach, preventive social policy will have the most significant impact on gendered violence.

As the report notes, this includes whole-of-life relationships and sexuality education. This starts with, but is not limited to, building programs within our schools and tertiary institutions that engage with this messy, loving, exciting and complex reality of human sexuality in all of its forms. This includes talking about consent and pleasure, as well as violence and risk. We need to learn and practice how to talk about sex, not shy away from it and sweep it under the carpet.

The work of Churchill Scholar and chair of the prevention arm of the task force Katrina Marson is particularly powerful in this area. Her fellowship report, Ignorance is not innocence, explains in detail the immense value of relationship and sexuality education, and the empowerment of educating young people about their bodies, relationships and identities.

I am pleased to see more affirmative recognition of the reality of child sexual abuse in the recommendation to amend the Crimes Act 1990. It has long been recognised that the language of legislation impoverishes sexual abuse victims from being able to effectively convey the harm that has been done to them. The vocabulary we use regarding sexual assault tends to be clinical and inadequate on many levels. This inadequate response extends to the treatment of sexual and domestic violence as something too taboo to be discussed in public forums.

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