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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 810 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

I recall a meeting I had with the representatives of Toora. They raised with me the issue of a review of domestic support for domestic violence services and shelter services such as theirs and the outcomes of that. Unfortunately I cannot recall the specifics but I do know that it is an issue that they were hoping would have been addressed by now. I am not sure whether it has been addressed. But if it has not been, I think it is important that the ACT government respond to the review that I understood was being undertaken in relation to the provision of domestic violence services in the ACT.

Mr Deputy Speaker, some of the figures relating to the number of women who access such a service are worth reflecting on. In 1999-2000, the Toora Wimmin's Shelter accommodated 376 women-an increase of close to 50 per cent on the previous year; up from 292 women in the previous financial year. The average length of stay was 81/2 days; the number of women under the age of 25 utilising the service had increased by 76 per cent; and the number of women reporting having experienced domestic violence had increased from 52 per cent to 73 per cent.

In many respects, that sends us a mixed message. It sends a message that perhaps there has been an increase in the incidence of domestic violence, and that is an issue of concern. But perhaps more accurately it indicates a greater willingness to report domestic violence. I think the figures on domestic violence have often been greatly understated because of the unwillingness of victims of domestic violence to report incidents in some sort of formal way. Those figures indicate, albeit in a counter intuitive way, that perhaps there is a greater level of acceptance and willingness to report these incidents.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the motion that Mr Stanhope has moved today raises an important point. There is a genuine desire to reaffirm the importance of the day and a need to address the inequities that are still faced by women in our society. It is incumbent on all members in this place, regardless of whether they are men or women, to be aware of the issues that affect over 50 per cent of our population and ensure that we remain focussed on improving services to that very significant majority of our population. Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.

MS TUCKER (5.36): I am pleased to join the debate on the motion moved by Mr Stanhope. I agree that it is a very serious motion. I think it is useful for us to reflect in this place on the need to ensure that crisis services are appropriately resourced. This is an important issue. Mr Stanhope and, to some degree, Mr Corbell, have spoken about what is happening and given us statistics, and we know that there is a problem. Mr Moore told us that he believes his government is addressing some of the crisis issues for women in our community. Mrs Burke also at one point addressed the issues. She talked about the women's action plan.

I need to pick up on something that Mr Moore said. He seems concerned that because we are not supporting the government's so-called reforms to public housing, which include further segmentation of the waiting lists, we are somehow disadvantaging women fleeing domestic violence. Mr Moore might be interested to know that women fleeing domestic violence were given priority anyway. He may also be interested to know that the sector generally-this includes people working in the field of crisis support for women-is not supportive of his government's so-called reforms to public housing.

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