Page 1909 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022

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I appreciate the government’s acknowledgement of the report’s finding that reform must be implemented across many sectors. In acknowledging this, we must also acknowledge the role that all members of the public have in ensuring that they remain aware of their responsibility to protect one another from attitudes and thinking patterns that lead to the naturalisation of abusive behaviour.

As a queer man, and someone who has experienced sexual assault, I have a complex and close relationship with the issue of gendered violence. Sexual violence in the queer community is rarely spoken about, but it is prevalent and it is most definitely influenced by gender. People who are gay, bi or lesbian experience intimate partner violence at similar rates to the general community, yet our experiences and our relationships are so rarely represented in the public conversation or policy responses to gendered violence.

There is little research into the experiences of sexual assault by trans and gender diverse people. However, a 2018 study by the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales found that trans men, trans women and non-binary people are experiencing sexual assault at four times the rate of cisgender women, who, as we know, experience unacceptably high rates of sexual violence.

As this report makes clear, it will require a systemic approach to address violence experienced by the queer community. LGBTQIA+ organisations such as Thorne Harbour run successful programs like their ReVisioning program, which offers a safe environment where individuals can explore power and control in their relationships to raise awareness of the effects of their behaviour on others. This is a fantastic initiative that, across the family and domestic violence sector, has been recognised as an important component of equipping our country with the resources to be able to identify and resolve problematic behaviours.

Research demonstrates the importance of health services which display inclusivity and have an understanding of LGBTQ women’s lives, as well as the need for health promotion and health information that is representative of the diversity of women’s lives, including LGBTQ women. This is needed to ensure that LGBTQ women maintain a good understanding of health and wellbeing, and for the Canberra community to become more inclusive and understanding of the needs and experiences of LGBTQ women and their experiences with sexual violence.

A survey conducted by ACON, formerly the AIDS Council of New South Wales, and the University of Sydney found that 42 per cent of respondents reported that they had been in a relationship where a partner had physically or emotionally abused them. That is an astonishingly high statistic that cannot be overlooked when we consider the importance of intersectionality in actualising these policy reforms.

Much like Thorne Harbour, ACON has committed to developing a primary prevention campaign to challenge the drivers of violence in sexuality and gender diverse communities; and I know that a lot of our local LGBTQIA+ advocacy organisations, like Meridian and A Gender Agenda, were also active participants in the task force and work in our community to address the stressors that lead to violence.

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