Page 4441 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005

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economic costs. The Access Economics report, which I think Dr Foskey referred to and titled The cost of domestic violence to the Australian economy, released in October last year, found that during 2002-03 domestic violence cost Australia $8.1 billion. Nearly half of this cost is borne by the victims of violence while many other groups in the community also bear the cost of this violence.

As many speakers have acknowledged here today, the overwhelming majority of violence against women is perpetrated by men. I guess we can only sit here and speculate about what drives a man to commit violence against women, but research indicates some men use violence to assert power, privilege and control. Men also learn violence as young boys and grow up to see it as a way to solve differences. These are not to be seen as excuses. We live today in a modern world, a 21st century enlightened society, and violence against anyone should not be tolerated. But research does give us some insight into what leads to perpetration of violence. We know children see and learn violence from a young age. Again, according to the Access Economics report, more than 180,000 children witnessed domestic violence during 2002-03. There is a real risk that this violence is perpetrated by later generations. Any of us visiting any women’s service in the ACT today could hear stories of the circular violence that occurs: refuges see grandmums, mums, children, and later their sons, who have sometimes been residents at the refuges as children, turn up, after 15 years, as perpetrators of violence, resulting in their partners seeking refuge from them.

If we are to end gender-based violence, we must raise awareness of domestic, family, sexual and cultural violence occurring amongst our community. It is also appropriate that men take the lead in objecting to violence against women in all its manifestations. We need to work together to foster recognition of and respect for the equal role and equal rights of women in society. Turning a blind eye to this type of violence cannot be tolerated.

That is the importance of events like White Ribbon Day on Friday, which provide the opportunity for all members of the community to speak out for the rights of women to live their lives free from violence. Yesterday I signed off letters to members of the Assembly and senior executives within the government to provide them with a white ribbon. It seems I could have missed the boat, considering most members are already wearing them. But it is important that we as community leaders wear the ribbon on the day as a symbol of our commitment to and support for this cause.

It is our vision, and I think it is a vision shared by everybody in this place, that every woman in the ACT is free from violence and free from the fear of violence. I strongly encourage all members to support White Ribbon Day, and to never condone, commit or remain silent about violence against women and girls.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: There being no further speakers, the discussion is concluded.

Planning and Environment—Standing Committee

Report 17

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (4.27): I present the following report:

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