Page 704 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 17 March 2015

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The ACT government stands willing and able to assist the commonwealth in raising awareness, encouraging victims to seek help and promoting respectful behaviour. That is why we have agreed to co-fund a $30 million national awareness campaign, together with the commonwealth government, the other states and the Northern Territory.

I make the point here this morning that raising awareness about what services victims can turn to will only be effective if these same services are properly and sustainably funded.

The ACT has strong domestic violence laws and supports the development and implementation of a framework so that DVOs can operate nationally. Currently there is no national scheme in place to seamlessly enforce domestic violence orders across states. For instance, when a woman from Canberra moves interstate, she would not enjoy automatic protection from the perpetrator through a DVO issued in the territory. (Time expired.)

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (11.57): I rise this morning to share the concern of my colleagues in the territory about the prevalence of domestic or family violence in this country and the impact that it has on so many people in our community.

In preparing for today’s discussion I went to the website for the “What Can You Do?” campaign, which is being put together by some of Canberra’s most prominent organisations in this area—the Women’s Centre for Health Matters, the Rape Crisis Centre, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service and the Women’s Legal Centre. They provide an excellent summary and insight into some of the definitional issues and also the scale of the problem we face. They talk about the fact that domestic violence refers to acts of violence that occur between people who have or have had an intimate relationship.

While there is no single definition, the central element of domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling a partner through fear—for example, by using behaviour which is violent and threatening. They note that domestic violence is not a one-off violent attack; it is about power and control and involves deliberate and long-term violence—abusive or intimidating behaviour which aims to control every part of a partner’s life. It takes many forms, such as physical violence, sexual abuse, financial control, constant criticism, isolation from family and friends, stalking and other kinds of harassment. These are behaviours that many of us would not have observed, if we are fortunate, but, as Mr Hanson has outlined in citing quite a few of the statistics, they are unfortunately way too prevalent in our community—unacceptably so.

The figures are startling. I think it is incomprehensible when we look at figures such as one in three women over the age of 15 reporting having experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. That means that we know those people; we know somebody in our circle of friends, within our family, within our community or within our workplace who has experienced that violence. That is both a confronting and an unacceptable thought to have.

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