Page 1991 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022

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The domestic and family violence sector continues to face increased demands, including workforce sustainability issues and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, the bill supports the council to better guide whole-of-territory responses to domestic and family violence in an increasingly complex and dynamic policy and service environment. The bill revises the functions of the council to advise me, as Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, on ways to continually improve our response to domestic and family violence. The council will identify gaps and opportunities for the ACT to make these improvements.

The bill also introduces a new membership model to bring together a diversity of vital expertise, skills and experience across the community, government and specialist and generalist services. This will ensure that the DVPC can function as a conduit between the community sector and the government, enabling greater collaboration and integration. Importantly, the membership also includes identified positions to represent the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the culturally and linguistically diverse community. This is absolutely vital to ensure that our responses to domestic and family violence are inclusive and intersectional and that we centre the experiences and perspectives of diverse communities in the ACT.

This focus on intersectional responses will also be supported by enabling the council to establish reference groups and allow non-members to participate. This will ensure that the council can directly engage with the community and specific cohorts, undertake focused work on specific themes and provide advice informed by and responding to the needs of our community. As part of this, the council will continue to work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reference group to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives are centred in the territory’s response to domestic and family violence.

I note that the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety provided comment on the potential human rights implications of the membership conditions described in the bill. As the committee noted, these potential limitations are justified in the explanatory statement as reasonable and necessary. They will ensure that the membership of the council is made up of leading expertise, experience, skills and on-the-ground knowledge of domestic and family violence to support the council to deliver outcomes.

We know that domestic and family violence is one of the most pressing issues facing our community in the ACT, and in our nation. It is important to remember that behind these discussions and policies there are lives that have been irretrievably changed or lost due to violence. We must work together to face these issues and create a Canberra community where all people can live safely, free of violence. I look forward to working with the reformed Domestic Violence Prevention Council to continue our work to improve responses to domestic and family violence across our community and to make Canberra safer for all.

I would like to acknowledge the victim-survivors of domestic and family violence, whose advocacy and lived experiences must always be central to our efforts to prevent

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