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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4213..


MR BARR (continuing):

But where to from here? There are a few issues to be considered in relation to HIV/AIDS over coming years. One of these is that we have identified the continued increase in diagnoses in Victoria and Queensland. A national committee is considering what actions have been taken in various jurisdictions across Australia, with particular interest in what has worked for New South Wales in stopping the increase occurring there. In this process, there are many things that we can learn from New South Wales to assist the ACT in raising awareness and preventing further transmission.

In the time remaining, I would like to note that in the coming years the AIDS Action Council will need to move from the existing Westlund House site in Acton, due to redevelopment of the ANU-City West precinct. We are very pleased to advise the Assembly that the Chief Minister's Department and ACT Health have been assisting in seeking alternative accommodation that meets the needs of the council and its clients. I understand that a location in Downer is looking very promising. The CMD and ANU will work with the council to draw up plans for a purpose-built facility on the site.

The government remains committed to furthering the response to HIV/AIDS in the ACT. I again thank Ms Porter for raising this very important matter of public importance.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.10): It was good to hear that the AIDS Action Council found a home, an issue about which my office and I have been concerned in the redevelopment of west Civic. Today I wish to say only a couple of things because basically it has all been said by Ms Porter and Mr Barr, the experts on government AIDS programs. I have a longstanding interest in and concern about this issue, primarily through my work on women's issues such as reproductive health and reproductive rights. Members might wonder why those issues are relevant. They are relevant because in Africa and in other developing countries women are the main victims of AIDS, and women's empowerment is seen as the main strategy for solving it. I would like to read from something written by Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, who put it quite well:

Finally the world seems to understand that—

in Africa—

this is a gender-based pandemic. Unless there is recognition that women are most vulnerable ... and you do something about social and cultural equality for women, you're never going to defeat this pandemic. This is the fundamental centerpiece of the whole blessed crisis! Men haven't changed their behaviour, so women somehow have to be strengthened to be able to ward off the men.

In other words, women have to be empowered to be able to say no to sexual intercourse without feeling that they will lose their marriages, their relationships and their roles in the family which, as we know so often, are the only way they have access to food, housing and economic survival. The decisions that they make should not just be based on their own wellbeing but on the wellbeing of their families. In many parts of the world women look out for the children. The World Bank recognised


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