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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 558 ..


I encourage women in the community to do the survey to help us better understand women’s experiences and their views about services and support. This research and existing data on sexual assault and sexual violence in the ACT will be an important starting point. We know the system has gaps and this work will identify the gaps and recommend actions to government.

The ACT government takes this seriously, and work is already happening in this space. Last year ACT Labor committed to a gender equality in schools initiative to provide a whole-school approach to respectful relationships education. This work will build on the Positive Behaviour for Learning program. Listening to young people about how they want to learn about consent and respectful relationships is an important part of this initiative, especially given that the changes to the demographics seeking support are 14 to 25-year-olds, according to the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre.

I initiated an annual International Women’s Day congress for ACT students to discuss gender equality in their schools, sports clubs, workplaces and communities, and to develop projects that they can implement in their schools. This year, students discussed period poverty and access to hygiene products at school, and the issue of consent education.

I have also begun work to ensure that staff in the Legislative Assembly are safe. The ACT Legislative Assembly Staffers Women’s Network provides a place for all women staffers to share experiences and support each other. Last year I announced a women’s caucus within the ACT government to tackle important issues facing women and girls across the territory, and invited my women colleagues across Labor and the ACT Greens to join this forum. Additional to this, the Speaker, Joy Burch, has coordinated a women’s parliamentary group. A review of the Legislative Assembly (Ministerial Staff) Code of Conduct is also underway.

Sexual assault and sexual violence require a whole-of-government response, and I will be working closely with my colleagues in the Assembly to coordinate this. In particular, I will be working with Minister Mick Gentleman, Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury, Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, Minister Tara Cheyne and Minister Emma Davidson, as well as Dr Marisa Paterson MLA, who is a passionate advocate in this space, with a particular interest in communicative definitions of consent. All political parties are invited to be part of this work and ensure that progress is made with a united front and not caught up in party politics. The first meeting of the working group will be held in coming weeks.

I know that this conversation is going to be triggering for some people. There are services available to support anyone who needs some help. The Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT has a 24-hour crisis line; the phone number is 62 800 900. The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre is open from 7 am to 11 pm, seven days a week; the phone number is 6247 2525. Victim Support ACT at the ACT Human Rights Commission is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday; the phone number is 6205 2222. The Women’s Legal Centre ACT is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday; the phone number is 6257 4377. 1800RESPECT is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for those impacted by sexual or domestic violence. The Legal Aid ACT


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