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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 December 2021) . . Page.. 4054 ..


I believe this motion is an important one for us to adopt, particularly during the 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence. The 16 days are an important reminder of the pervasiveness of gender-based violence which is largely caused by gender inequality. It is important that we continue to challenge ideas that normalise violence against women.

The ACT may be a small jurisdiction but we continue to show leadership at the national level. Domestic and family violence is one area where this leadership is especially important, as this is a national issue and one that we are all responsible for helping to address. I support this motion and commend it to the Assembly.

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and Minister for Mental Health) (11.48): Everyone should be able to live their lives free from violence and fear of violence. Sadly, that is not currently the case. In the 2020-21 year DVCS supported 4,894 clients. The majority of those experiencing violence were women.

The 2014 DVCS report Staying Home After Domestic Violence confirmed that the overwhelming majority of ACT women in contact with DVCS stay home after an incident of violence and do not enter into a specialist homelessness service. This means that they are often paying high rent or mortgage costs on a single income, experiencing long delays in property settlements and are not eligible for social housing if they have joint home ownership with their ex-partner and may be repaying their ex-partner’s debts, as well as legal and physical and mental health costs, often while also not receiving child support payments from their ex-partner.

National data shows that women who report domestic violence are three times more likely to receive less than 40 per cent of the property value in settlements. As mentioned by Mr Davis, the average cost of family law proceedings is $6,500. These economic pressures are why 54.6 per cent of homeowners and 62.5 per cent of families in rental properties lost their homes within 12 months of separation.

For individuals who are dealing with domestic violence, keeping their paid employment is essential for covering the cost. Many women participating in research with the Women’s Centre for Health Matters in 2016 talked about managing the additional full-time job of appointments for child protection support programs, counselling, legal appointments, court-ordered mediation and sometimes years of Family Court dates.

In the words of domestic violence crisis workers, the experience of poverty, particularly where there are children, can be enough to make women return to violent situations. PricewaterhouseCoopers calculated in 2015 that the cost of domestic violence in the ACT is $355.2 million per year. This includes costs in the health system, productivity, social welfare and the personal cost to victim-survivors. In the ACT, $206 million per year of this total cost is borne by victim-survivors and $127.8 million by the ACT government.


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