Page 463 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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One major tool for eliminating violence against both men and women is to encourage men to work with other men to encourage acceptance of diverse masculinities and to assist in other strategies for dealing with conflict in relationships apart from violence. Women have a right to safety in the home, on the street and in the workplace, but violence against women is not only a women’s problem. Any act of violence should be condemned publicly and privately as unacceptable.

Mr Speaker, while violence against women and girls, and men and boys, must be addressed and victims helped and perpetrators punished, we must also work on the conditions that nurture that violence. These include poverty, lack of access to appropriate educational pathways, secure housing, employment and respect from service providers. Sentences for violent offenders need to be as much about rehabilitation as punishment. The gender inequity at the base of violence against women is systemic and sanctioned in powerful areas of our society. We only have to witness recurring publicity about sports teams’ treatment of women as fun. We need to counter violence against women and girls systemically.

The Greens will be working with community organisations to ensure that the ACT remains committed to reducing the incidence of gender-based violence.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.27): I thank Ms MacDonald for bringing this motion to the Assembly. I also just enjoyed listening to Dr Foskey’s contribution to the debate.

I will address some of the comments that Mrs Burke has made. I know she would expect me to do so—and that is probably why she is leaving the chamber now. That goes down as probably one of the most outrageous speeches on a motion about domestic violence that I think I have ever had to sit through, and I think it would be good for women’s organisations around the ACT to have a look at some of the comments that Mrs Burke made.

She was essentially running the argument that all the statistics are a bit out of whack; that really the impact on women is there but we have to look at the impact on men because those statistics are often not fair; that it usually comes with this language that places pressure and is unfair on men; that it is a bit emotive; that these poor men have suffered obviously at some point to be actually engaging in this violence. She was saying that statistics give an unbalanced view of actually what is occurring.

As usual, I think Mrs Burke’s speech was full of clichés and full of questions and had absolutely no substance, that I could see, in any research that would support her argument. Gender-based violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated against women and in almost all cases the perpetrator is male. And for her to be running a line that that is not the case really questions her fitness to be shadow minister in this portfolio, although I note her title is the shadow minister for men’s and women’s issues. I do not actually have an understanding of what that means.

We cannot underestimate the impact that domestic violence has on our community; it is not only here in the ACT but also across Australia and globally. The violence that

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