Page 804 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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Of course we must all be concerned at the fact that, whilst Beryl is contracted to provide services for women in crisis for up to three months—and it is a major concern I have here—it is now being forced to breach, in a certain way, its contractual arrangements. “How has this happened?” you might well ask. The situation, as I understand it, from talking with women associated with Beryl and the refuge, is that there is simply nowhere to send their clients on to.

So we have a situation where crisis accommodation is now itself in crisis. Of course, we have seen that. I attend, and my staff attend, regular ACT shelter forums. That is the big cry from the community there, particularly if we focus on women’s accommodation. But other crisis accommodation is in serious crisis. I really hope that we do not hear the cop-out line that gets heard in this place from time to time, that it has been like this for years.

That may be the case, Mr Speaker, but we have a government now, wearing the mantle of government, that really needs to come up with the answers. It is on your watch now, and I think that we really need to be moving forward. The minister, I know, has alluded to the fact that we have an ACT women’s plan, which I have in front of me here. Under its own women’s plan, it has promised to ensure an adequate supply of public and community housing.

I guess that there is great work to be done. Obviously, there is a severe shortage and, obviously, my questions are around the management of some of these things that are happening. But that is a debate for another day. I just really want to continue to elevate and praise the women within the sector. We all have enormous admiration for the women who work in this sector and would also here like to recognise the work of other women’s shelters, crisis accommodation workers and service providers of that type in the ACT.

Whilst ever we talk of admiration of women in our community, I would like to express my admiration for the women who are currently trapped in what I see as less than healthy situations in our community, in our own backyard. We have heard much during this international women’s week, if you like, particularly around International Women’s Day, of crisis. We have got reams of paper off the International Women’s Day website. We heard a fantastic speaker at the luncheon telling us about worldwide problems regarding offences against women.

But here I speak particularly of a number of women I am trying to assist—women and their children—who are in less than satisfactory environments. Obviously, I am not going to reveal their names. I can support it. I have a file in front of me here, for Mr Hargreaves’s interest, but he and his office are well aware of the women whom I am about to talk about in general terms. He understands their plight. However, I see little, if anything, being done to help alleviate that plight.

The government’s women’s plan says:

The Government acknowledges that tenants in public and community housing have individual needs.

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