Page 4433 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005
We would all be aware that, since May last year, the federal government has run a serious advertising campaign that seeks to redress some of the problems that can be tackled in relation to the behaviour of men who seek to inflict harm on women. This genuine attempt is highlighting the point that all men, whether they are perpetrators or are a friend or relative of a perpetrator, have a serious responsibility to stand up and say that any form of violence is abhorrent and not acceptable, and that where necessary action should be taken to report an incident.
I certainly concur with the efforts of any government to eradicate violence from the community. I am sure that the majority of men in our community do not condone acts of violence. This point can be built upon. I am sure that the government is aware of the importance of having strong male role models for boys and young men. At the local level, I would hope that the government is taking the necessary steps to fill gaps in service delivery and is making genuine attempts to improve, for example, supportive programs that seek to actively engage young men, during an impressionable period of their lives, to obtain viewpoints and in turn to offer them the necessary skills and the ability to differentiate between what is and is not an acceptable way to treat and interact with their young female peers and women in the broader community.
I would agree that positive action has been taken by the ACT government to ensure that all schools in Canberra have an anti-bullying policy, for example. I anticipate that this program will go one step further and actually discuss the matter of violence that is gender-based and make it clear just how seriously this problem impacts upon our community, along with any other form of violence.
Acts of violence affect the social, emotional, physical and financial wellbeing of individuals and families and that, in turn, results in significant social and economic cost to the community. The entire community has a role to play in ensuring that we all have a right to feel safe and secure, regardless of who we are. There is constant need for a balanced perspective, particularly in dealing with violence against women. I will support the government in its continued efforts to address this serious social problem, but I will also continue to insist that, in proportion to the problem, the government monitor and respond to how men face personal difficulties, emotionally and psychologically, and subsequently why they commit acts of violence.
I have long been a supporter of the work of the Lone Fathers Association, which seeks to assist men in crisis with things such as accommodation, relationship issues and working towards rehabilitation of their lives after divorce or separation. I must mention at this point that this organisation was recently awarded a certificate of achievement under the regional achievement and community awards for New South Wales and the ACT for a program entitled “Stand up and be counted”. They have also been nominated for the final for the community of the year award for a population over 15,000. This organisation is serious about tackling the problems associated with domestic violence, in particular violence against women, and I commend it for its efforts. I also commend the ACT government for its continued financial assistance to the Lone Fathers Association.
Mr Speaker, given that I have already debated this matter this year, and it is one that we cannot ever stop talking about, I would like to give other members time to have their say. I will close at this point by quoting Dr Foskey, who, during the debate in February this