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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 960 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Apart from anything else, it is quite rude, but I guess that is Mr Cornwell's right. I do not have a fear of protests, but I respect Mr Cornwell's right not to like protests or be involved in protests, if that is his bent. The idea of the march is to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. It could be seen as a protest, I guess, about the lack of appropriate accommodation of the victims of sexual abuse of children. It can be seen to be about raising awareness. What is a protest and what is raising awareness is an academic point. You can have that discussion. To be honest, I do not think it is an important point whether it is a protest or it is awareness raising.

We have a long way to go. If people are aware of child sexual abuse, it is because people have chosen to take actions to try to raise awareness about the issues. That is what this march will do. It will further raise awareness. Mr Cornwell appears to be saying that we already know about it and that there are few people who are unaware of child protection issues. He said that most of us already know about it.

Mr Cornwell says there are laws and mandatory reporting and that we will do more. I could talk about sexual assault law. There has been a Law Reform Commission report and a discussion paper on how victims of sexual abuse are treated in the court, how they are re-victimised through the court process, how the police processes, although much better with a sexual assault team, still re-victimise victims of abuse in the legal system. The Law Reform Commission pointed to a lot of problems.

What else will the march achieve? It will show that this issue is a high priority. People in the community who support this march will be saying to policy-makers, decision-makers and the broader community, "This matter is a big issue for our society, and we have chosen in this democracy to walk together saying we need to do more; that we need to condemn abuse of children."

There is plenty more to be done. Mr Cornwell referred to further steps to improve protection of children. This march is about getting those steps to happen. This march is about asking when. This march is about saying that there is not enough. We have had support in all sorts of ways. I have a list of reports that have come up with recommendations. Many Paths for Healing was one, and there are others. We have done the work in the ACT over the last few years since I have been involved in this Assembly. We have looked at how we can improve support and services in the area of child abuse and sexual abuse.

We need to continue to work on opening up the culture and allowing abuse to be spoken of. This week I spoke about my own childhood abuse. I appreciate people offering me support for doing that. I sincerely appreciate it. I felt vulnerable after doing it. The very fact that that is how I feel and that people had to acknowledge that it was an issue to do it, not just for me but for my family also, shows that we have a long way to go in opening up how we can speak about abuse. If only all of us would walk in this march; if only all of us as leaders in the community made statements; if only all the football teams walked with us. I talked to Mal Meninga today, because we are looking for a man to speak at this rally. He was very supportive in principle but he is not around. He is a great guy. He is a role model of a different kind.

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