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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 May 2021) . . Page.. 1228 ..


I look forward to working with the outcomes from the legal stream of this work and making sure that, in the legal areas, we put the right reforms in place in a timely manner.

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and Minister for Mental Health) (10.30): It is distressing that, to this day, we are still grappling with a crime that causes so much pain to individuals and communities.

Sexual abuse has a significant impact on mental health. Studies show it has a lasting impact and increases the risk of mental illness diagnosis or symptoms later in life. Reducing the risk factors for poorer mental health outcomes, such as those feelings of self-blame, shame, the negative reactions from others and dealing with the trauma itself, requires support and compassion from those around the affected person.

To support people, the ACT Health Directorate funds a range of therapeutic programs and services. These include trauma-informed health services, including counselling at ACT Women’s Health Service. There is also the Question, Persuade and Refer online suicide prevention training program that is delivered by the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing, in partnership with Healthier Work and the Black Dog Institute.

I also note that people with disability are an at-risk and vulnerable group in our community. Women with disability are 40 per cent more likely to experience domestic violence than their non-disabled counterparts, and the rates of sexual violence against women with disabilities are four to 10 times those without disability. Nine in 10 women with an intellectual disability have been sexually abused.

The sexual assault prevention and response working group must focus on listening to people with disability, identify how we can reduce harm to Canberrans with disability, and ensure that services are trauma informed, specialised and accessible for people in need.

I welcome this tripartisan commitment to prevent and respond to sexual assault. I note that it is crucial that services are trauma informed, so that people who have experienced violence can feel safe and supported in order to share their experiences and seek help.

When I think about the work that we need to do, I think about all of the stories that women have shared with me in my previous work in advocacy in the community sector and as a frontline welfare support worker over decades in this city, and I know that we have much more to do. But I want the community to know that we want to hear from you, we believe you, we are working hard to provide the support that is needed, and we will never stop working on this while you need us. I look forward to working with my Assembly colleagues on delivering the right responses and support for people.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for


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