Page 4432 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005

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The international community has recognised that efforts to confront gender-based violence are central to human security and development. We all have to work hard to put an end to gender-based violence once and for all. Unfortunately, violence against women remains prevalent in our community, as can be witnessed by the regular media reports and articles. Violent acts occur daily across Australia and the world, and will only stop through the cooperation and combined efforts of the entire world community.

I end by quoting UNIFEM executive director Noeleen Heyzer:

We need to say “No more and never again.” If we commit ourselves to creating a world free from violence against women and girls, our children will say we stopped the universal and unpunished crime of all time against half the people of the earth.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (3.47): I rise to support the intent of the MPI today in its effort to acknowledge the importance of continuing to recognise the UN international day for the elimination of violence against women, and in particular the impact of violence against women in the ACT.

I note with interest that perhaps this MPI is seeking to build upon a motion put to this Assembly in February of this year by Ms MacDonald which, amongst other things, highlighted the efforts of the Office for Women to pull together the ACT women’s action plan in 2004-05 and a continued focused via the 2005-06 plan to build upon the earlier initiatives and subsequently introduce new ones.

I believe that, during a previous debate relating to this matter, some members quite wrongly mistook my attempt to highlight the problems that men face within our community to mean that in some way I was implying that the focus should be redirected from supporting and caring for women faced with all forms of violence. That simply is not true. Again I put to the Assembly that the cause of the problem of violence whereby men abuse their perceived power and continue physically and/or psychologically to dominate or control women is an area that should be dealt with in the strongest terms.

I must add here that there are services in Canberra—Ms MacDonald alluded to many of them—such as such the Domestic Violence Crisis Service, the crisis accommodation providers and the family violence intervention program that are focused on and committed to assisting families which are combating all forms of violence. It was conveyed to me as recently as today that now, via an increase in support programs, media attention and community education, more and more people are building up the courage to seek assistance and, in turn, that is placing more pressure upon the available services.

I welcome the government’s continued efforts to plan for and implement strategic changes to legislation and the particular processes women undergo when experiencing violence to allow for a positive environment to be offered that protects, supports and assists women. I would ask however whether there has been a significant change, up or down, in the rate of violence towards women. Has the government correlated any evidence to support the impact and effectiveness of programs that seek to assist women through the difficult times when facing violent situations?

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