Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (3 April) . . Page.. 1363 ..
MS GALLAGHER: I am pleased to table today a document entitled Justice, options and prevention-working to make the lives of ACT women safe. The ACT government recognises the right of every individual to participate and contribute in all aspects of life in the ACT. Violence and community safety can affect the accessibility of, and the extent of participation in, all aspects of society.
Violence in the community refers to a broad range of behaviours in which an individual or group uses power to oppress others in some way. This can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and economic abuse. Violence occurs in people's homes and in public places.
Evidence provided to the Select Committee on the Status of Women in the ACT from the Australian Federal Police noted that in 2001 in the ACT women and girls accounted for 43 per cent of the victims of assault and 86 per cent of the victims of sexual assault.
In 63 per cent of the 109 sexual assaults against women in the ACT in 2001 the victim knew the offender and in 21.8 per cent of these reported cases the offender was a member of the family. Approximately 42 per cent of those reported rapes were perpetrated on girls under the age of 14.
The ABS conducted a national women's safety survey in 1996. The result showed many women in the ACT to be uneasy about harassment and safety in various situations, particularly after dark using public transport, walking in their local neighbourhoods and in their own homes. These concerns for their safety were higher than the national average of women in Australia. Recent consultations during the development of this framework confirmed this as still being a current issue for ACT women.
Mr Speaker, the ACT government and community agencies have developed a range of strategies and programs designed to address the issues of violence and safety in the community. These include: a discussion paper, Facing up to racism, which will lead to a strategy to address issues of racism and unfair discrimination; the establishment of an information and referral service and an emergency accommodation fund, in partnership with Lifeline and Anglicare, to assist people in need of emergency housing to access available services; and new education programs that aim to help all family members after violence has been perpetrated. This policy framework will form the basis of a more collaborative, coordinated and holistic approach to addressing violence and safety issues for women in our community.
The reduction and prevention of violence towards women require a united government and community action. That is why the government consulted extensively with stakeholders from government and non-government agencies, as well as members of the community.
To ensure that the ACT is a community where women of all ages feel safe and valued, issues of violence and safety have to be addressed. This framework recognises that. The document encompasses not only a statement of the government's commitment to addressing issues of violence and safety for women, but also includes a series of specific