Page 2491 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 29 June 2005

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At 6 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for the next sitting. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly was put.


Indigenous communities—family violence

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.00): Mr Speaker, I had the pleasure on Monday morning of representing the Chief Minister and the Minister for Women at the opening of the indigenous family violence forum. The forum was held over two days at the CIT campus at Reid and concluded yesterday, having made a lot of progress. The theme of the conference, “Together we can break the cycle: strong family, strong future”, is indicative of the collaborative approach to addressing problems of family violence within indigenous communities in the ACT. There is currently no co-ordinating framework to specifically address family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

This forum represents the first step to developing a policy framework to address family violence within the ACT indigenous community. The forum provided an opportunity for its 70 participants to share information, increase awareness of the level of violence and identify broad strategies to address family violence in indigenous communities.

The forum included a presentation from Professor Judy Atkinson, a prominent indigenous academic at the Southern Cross University. As head of the Gnibi college of indigenous people, Professor Atkinson has focused much of her academic and community work on addressing the problems of violence in indigenous communities. Her particular focus on healing represents an important contribution to the debate about strategies for addressing violence. We must facilitate ways to progress change in our communities, and we must find ways to heal.

Also presenting to the forum was Ms Heather Nancarrow, the current director of the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research in Mackay. Ms Nancarrow has extensive experience, both academic and in a community support role, in family violence. Speakers of the calibre and experience of Professor Atkinson and Ms Nancarrow are indicative of the depth of constructive engagement of participants in the forum.

Intended to raise awareness and to confront concerns arising out of experience and of research into family violence in indigenous communities, the forum identified a series of outcomes for future action and engagement. These will require further budgetary commitments for completion, which, while understandably constrained by fiscal realities, are necessary to progress this very important work in our community.

The passion shown over the last two days reveals the strength of commitment to effecting real change in reducing and preventing family violence in indigenous communities. The enduring stimulation and enthusiasm for working for change, shown even at the end of a rigorous forum held over two days, demonstrates a willingness to progress this framework into the future in a meaningful way. The planning and platform development came from the grass roots, ensuring that framework development is

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