Page 705 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 17 March 2015

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According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, the majority of family homicides occur between intimate partners, and the majority of partner homicides involve males killing their female partners. They note that the most dangerous place for a woman to be in regard to violence and murder is in her own home and with her own intimate partner. Again, it is an absolute breach of trust and an absolute travesty, in the sense that one should feel secure in their own home and yet, unfortunately, that is the place a woman is most likely to experience violence or murder.

The campaign website that I refer to speaks a lot about what men can do and what we can do as a community. I will not cite the entire website. but I think that what comes through that, most importantly, is the notion that we as a community can play an important role. There are many ways to do that. Today in the Assembly we are particularly discussing the role that governments can play through the provision of services, legal support and a range of other things.

But the message that comes through—through this community campaign and, very strongly, through the White Ribbon campaign, in which I know Minister Gentleman has played a strong role and for which I and other members in this place have been ambassadors; it has been a very effective awareness-raising campaign—is that we all have a role to play. That applies to men in particular, of course, because most of this violence is perpetrated by men, but each of us has a role to play, particularly in speaking out about these issues but also, most importantly, in not turning a blind eye and in putting out a hand to help if we think that we are aware of somebody who is experiencing some form of domestic violence. That can be a very challenging thing to do, but it is a duty that does rest upon each of us—to not turn a blind eye. It is that turning of a blind eye—turning away, failing to speak out—that allows domestic violence to continue. In speaking out against it and in taking action and not turning that blind eye, each of us has the potential to play a role in bringing that cycle of violence to an end.

I turn to the motion that Minister Corbell has brought forward today. He has spoken to it in some detail. It spells out the importance of a comprehensive government response, underlines what a significant issue this is in our community and talks through some of the issues. I particularly turn to the section that calls on the federal government. There is no doubt that the community legal centres play an incredibly important role. Today there has been quite some discussion of the role that they play; they are incredible resources in our community.

Certainly the ACT Women’s Legal Centre is key to assisting vulnerable women in the Canberra community who are not able to access appropriate assistance elsewhere. It is a small but highly specialised organisation; its staff are experts in the gender-specific issues that impact women’s access to justice, including domestic and sexual violence, and it is a first point of contact for some vulnerable women. The latest statistics that I have received from the Women’s Legal Centre—I met with their director in recent weeks—include that it helps around 1,200 clients per year and that approximately two-thirds of the centre’s family law clients report being directly affected by domestic violence. I think all members will agree that that is a disturbing statistic and that the

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