Page 2370 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 28 June 2005

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I think that, to that end, recommendation 5 certainly would help. Recommendation 5 reads:

The Committee recommends that, in future, the Women’s Budget Statement cross-reference programs mentioned in the Statement to the relevant areas in the Budget Papers.

Members who were before the committee and people trying to ask question found it incredibly difficult, as did the minister, I have to say, so I am just hoping that we can refine some of that and learn from this process for the next budget. I know that the minister has committed to work on that. Also, recommendation 6 states:

The Committee recommends that, in future, the Women’s Budget Statement include a fuller economic based gender analysis of the budget.

I look forward to any efforts that can be made to that end for next time.

From the outset I commend the government for its sustained efforts in addressing and tackling some of the more difficult issue that women face, such as bringing into the public spotlight the issue of domestic violence. I welcome the increase of $482,000 over four years in additional new funding. It certainly does mean that programs like this can have certainty and can continue to work to address the effects of domestic violence on family members living within troubled relationships, and also, of course, the community around them.

Ongoing funding, as I have said, is vital in assisting such services as the Domestic Violence Crisis Service and the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, which support women and children experiencing family violence. It is important that the Domestic Violence Support Group attached to the Women’s Information and Referral Centre continues to be maintained in order to respond to women who have suffered abuse from their partner. They will work in conjunction with the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, which also convenes a weekly support group for survivors of sexual abuse.

At this point I might say that focus needs to be directed, or refocus needs to be directed towards men in our society. I have said this many times. We need to refocus on the role that they play and how we can better assist in times of personal crisis, relationship breakdowns or in addressing anger management and/or violent behaviour. I should note here, too, the government’s commitment. We are hearing more about men’s programs being funding and I certainly welcome that. If there is a way forward in addressing the complex problems faced by men, then we are at the same time possibly able to better address the needs of women.

Community education programs will obviously need to be continued to address the causes of violence. Funding initiatives may only deal with the effect, but education and the acknowledgement of some previous approaches to dealing with domestic and other forms of violence needs to be readdressed and continually revisited. I note that during the estimates hearings the minister pointed out that the role of Minister for Women does not exclude men. I note that paragraph 4.46 on page 50 of the select committee’s report, in part, states:

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