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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 720 ..


people with those. The Victim Services Scheme helped 2,100 clients in 2019-20 by providing counselling, case coordination, advice information, court service and justice advocacy. The scheme provides support, alongside the critical and ongoing work delivered by the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre to support sexual assault victims every day.

Ensuring that our victim support services are provided with flexibility in their arrangements to best help those in need is critical. I know that the Minister for Women’s tripartisan sexual assault prevention and response working group that she announced on Monday—if my memory serves me correctly—is an excellent initiative. It will look closely at these arrangements as part of its broad scope and will provide further key insights into the on-the-ground lived experience of victims of sexual assault, and also existing services to support those people.

In closing, again I want to thank Mrs Jones for bringing this timely motion to the Assembly. I also want to thank Brittany Higgins, Grace Tame and the incredibly strong women, including Dr Paterson—who has spoken out about her own experience of sexual harassment in the workplace—for the incredible strength they have shown in pursuing their cases and in speaking publicly about what happened to them. While it is distressing for women and, I have no doubt, many men around the country to be hearing these stories again and again and to be reflecting on their own experiences, it is incredibly important that we are talking about this. I hope that we see real action at the commonwealth level.

As a former staffer in Parliament House, I really hope that there is real action in Parliament House. I do not think anyone who has worked in Parliament House could be genuinely surprised. We can be shocked; we can be appalled. What allegedly happened to Brittany Higgins is absolutely shocking and appalling, and it is surprising. But some of the other behaviour is not surprising and it does not just happen in Parliament House. Those young men whose sexual exploits have been shared with one another really have taken everybody aback. They did not start that behaviour when they became staffers in Parliament House. That behaviour was accepted in other places, whether it was at university or in their school. This is a whole-of-community conversation; it is not just about politics. This motion is very important. It is good to have an opportunity to talk about it and it is good to have an opportunity for this focus to be on the very important services that support victims of sexual assault every day, unfortunately, in our community.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (3.24): I also want to thank Mrs Jones for this timely motion, and I commend it, but I particularly commend the amendments moved by Minister Stephen-Smith. To echo Ms Stephen-Smith’s comments, we are just three months into the year but the last six weeks of those, for many people around this country, have been a particularly traumatising, triggering experience.

I absolutely commend the bravery of people who have spoken up. I think we are seeing something like we have never quite seen before, in that the power of people


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