Page 1976 - Week 05 - Thursday, 5 May 2011

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National candle lighting ceremony

Domestic violence

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (6.02): I guess I am going to change the pace somewhat, as I would like to draw the attention of members to an important event that happened last night while we were still here in the chamber. I am talking about the national candle lighting ceremony for people who have lost their lives due to domestic and family violence. The vigil was held in Garema Place at 5.45 pm and was organised by the Domestic Violence Crisis Service and supported by the White Ribbon Foundation, for which I am an ambassador.

Every year in Australia over 100 women, children and men die as a direct result of domestic and family violence, and that is certainly a sobering statistic. The national candle lighting ceremony aims to honour the people who have lost their lives as well as acknowledge the profound immediate and long-term impact these tragic deaths have on those left behind. Vigils have been held around Australia for over 20 years and this is the second year one has been held in the ACT. The vigil was attended by the Commissioner for Young People, Alasdair Roy, the US ambassador, members of the many agencies that support victims of domestic violence, police service persons and of course people who have themselves been victims of domestic violence.

The ceremony involved the lighting of a number of candles to each represent the individual men, women and children who have died as well as the children left behind after a family member has died. It was certainly a very moving tribute and a graphic visual demonstration of the statistics: 66 candles for the lives lost in the ACT since the service began in 1988, either through murder, suicide, overdoses or suspicious and unknown causes.

It is worth noting that the fatality statistics used by the Domestic Violence Crisis Service include only the deaths that the service itself is aware of. There may be many other deaths related to domestic and family violence of course that it is not aware of.

The vast majority of the victims are women and we know from the research that women are most at risk of fatality when they have lived with domestic violence and are thinking of leaving the relationship, have left the relationship, have a new partner or have a matter within the criminal justice system, a domestic violence order or proceedings in the Family Court.

The Greens would also like to take this opportunity, as has already been brought up in the budget debate, to welcome the announcement by the government to establish a new “wraparound service” to target the causes of domestic violence, including an intervention program for men who perpetrate domestic violence. I know this is welcomed by the agencies working in the sector. It is essential, if we are to truly address domestic violence at the core, that we work at addressing behaviours and attitudes around domestic violence, starting with those who are most often the perpetrators—unfortunately, men.

That is why I personally support the work of the White Ribbon Foundation because the model that it uses is a very important one; that is, raising awareness among men

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