Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 564 ..
stakeholders and members of this place. Certainly, since committing to sexual assault law reform in the parliamentary and governing agreement, my office and I have had a number of conversations with stakeholders to work out the issues that are at the forefront of people’s minds and what role a group like this can play to help us arrive at the right reforms. As I have touched on, law reform is only one part of a significant cultural shift that needs to happen to ensure that women are safe wherever they are—in our city, in their homes, at work and in the various other places that they live their lives.
Last year, during the election campaign, the ACT Greens proposed a significant program of reforms to build a better normal for women in Canberra. They ranged from closing the income gap to safety upgrades at transport hubs. Strengthening responses to domestic, family and sexual violence was a major focus, and we were sure to include that in the parliamentary and governing agreement, because this is work that we have known for some time needs to be done. It is part of, I guess, continuing reforms. In the ACT in recent years we have seen a range of responses, but as more and more issues come to light and as more people speak up about their experiences, it shows us new areas or different ways that we need to think about responding. We have said that we can draw on the past success of the Sexual Assault Reform Program, but we should also explore new models.
I look forward to working with Minister Berry and my other colleagues to bring together those community voices so that we can implement the best possible reforms to sexual assault processes. We need to protect people from sexual abuse and ensure that those who commit sexual offences are appropriately held to account. A strong criminal and justice response to sexual offending is important, not just for victims and survivors but also for the entire community. Improving the justice system, as I have said, is one part of the culture change that is needed to better support people who are sexually assaulted and prevent perpetrators from committing these crimes.
There is a strong momentum for change, both here in the ACT and, as has been highlighted, through the national discussion. We saw many thousands of women gathering on the lawns of Parliament House here in Canberra and in public spaces right across the country to demand change in a range of ways. Of course, we have been strengthened in that resolve by the bravery of a number of women who have spoken very publicly about their experiences. I think it challenges us all as a community to do better.
We know that there is not one single reform that is needed in this space. I very much look forward to the roundtable, when the Minister Berry convenes it, and to working with her, my ministerial colleagues and others in the Assembly to make sure that we have an ongoing, iterative program of reform in the ACT and that, as we learn more and put reforms in place, we are providing the best possible response. I thank the minister for her statement this morning and the opportunity to speak on behalf of my colleagues on these very important matters.
DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (10.53): Thank you, Minister, for your statement. Since the Assembly last sat, in February, a mere six weeks ago, a seismic shift has occurred in Australia. When Brittany Higgins disclosed on national television that she