Page 4434 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005

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year on gender-based violence, summed up the root cause of violence in our community so eloquently as follows:

… while violence against women and girls, and men and boys, must be addressed and victims helped and perpetrators punished, we must also work on the conditions that nurture that violence. These include poverty, lack of access to appropriate educational pathways, secure housing, employment and respect from service providers. Sentences for violent offenders need to be as much about rehabilitation as punishment. The gender inequity at the base of violence against women is systemic and sanctioned in powerful areas of our society … We need to counter violence against women and girls systemically.

The issue of respect, nurturing and a sense of caring that men show towards women remains the key to breaking the cycle of violence and, once again, I welcome the opportunity to have this topic brought to the attention of the Assembly. I support the theme I have just expressed and I support White Ribbon Day on 25 November, which encourages men also to support efforts to end gender-based violence in our community.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (3.55): The ACT Greens believe that families are the basic social unit in most societies and provide the context for the early lives of most people. We know that they can be a source of self-esteem and confidence where they are working well but, where they are not, of unhappiness and lack of confidence. Family patterns are played out from generation to generation, making positive interventions into violent and dysfunctional families an essential tool of social policy. I cannot emphasise strongly enough the fact that to prevent having violent adults we must make sure that we assist families in providing the best conditions for their children. Nonetheless, it will be a while before we catch up on that one.

In response to gender-specific violence, the ACT Greens support: enforcing laws against domestic violence; increasing the number of women in the police forces; improved training for police and security personnel for conflict-avoiding responses to increase their understanding of, and their ability to defuse, domestic and other potentially violent situations; banning the production, performance, display and distribution of pornographic material that depicts women, men and children as objects for, and perpetrators of, violence and sexual exploitation, and I think that we are seeing the return of advertisements portraying women as sexual objects, something that would have been considered quite improper just a few years ago; education, counselling and training services for men and women who are seeking to overcome violent behaviour and feelings; and mandatory counselling and training as part of an appropriate sentence for men and women convicted of domestic violence offences.

In response to family stress, the ACT Greens support: developing a strategy within the social plan for family support services, including parental training and education programs, and intervention programs for families at risk; a publicity campaign to encourage families to seek assistance as soon as they encounter difficulties; specific early intervention counselling services for men and women involved in family disputes or violence; providing legal aid and the Women’s Legal Service with adequate resources to give advice and legal representation on family law matters; an increased role for men in parenting through the provision of parental leave and equal access to leave by both

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