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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 March 2015) . . Page.. 789 ..

Minister Corbell, and I am pleased to do that unanimously with my colleagues in the Assembly.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (10.44): How many women will it take? To be clear, it is usually—not always, but usually—women who are the victims of domestic violence. According to Our Watch, women around the world aged 15 to 44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than cancer, car accidents, war or malaria. In Australia one woman in three has experienced physical violence and one woman in five has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. Young women aged 18 to 24 are more likely to experience sexual or physical violence than women across all other age groups. Most sexual assault and most violence against young women is likely to be perpetrated by a young man they know.

Over the years there have been a number of reviews and reports and recommendations about domestic violence, and some recommendations keep cropping up. For example, the recent Queensland special task force on domestic and family violence led by Dame Quentin Bryce handed a 368-page report to the Queensland government at the end of February. Some of its 140 recommendations include: developing more integrated service responses to better help victims and overcome current barriers to information sharing; increasing the availability and standard of perpetrator intervention programs, improving court orders and processes so that they have more specialist knowledge; sharing information; being more victim focused; developing an ongoing strategy and framework for implementing, resourcing and evaluating these initiatives; and, very importantly, changing community attitudes through education, prevention and communication initiatives targeting school students, employers, lawyers, doctors and teachers.

They are all sound proposals, but we have heard some of them before: go back to the 2009 joint report of the Australian and New South Wales law reform commissions, the 2012 New South Wales Standing Committee on Social Issues report, and the 2010 national action plan to reduce violence against women and children and the follow-up second action plan. All those reports build on three decades of reviews, reports and task forces, all of which have familiar recommendations, such as better integrated victim services, more effective victim-centred legal responses, raising community awareness and greater focus on intervention and prevention. They all recognise this is a deeply entrenched social problem which requires long-term, multi-pronged solutions. There are no quick fixes.

As reported in the Conversation recently, Australia is not alone. Domestic violence is a global problem, found even in countries often seen as having greater gender equality, lower levels of violence and less punitive criminal justice systems. In Sweden a 2011-12 European Union survey of women showed that more than one in four reported physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner. Both the Swedish and Norwegian governments have recognised domestic violence as a significant issue. Again, if you look at what their expert reports call for, we see similar and familiar arguments for a comprehensive approach, increased coordination of victim services, treatment and intervention, and effective investigation and prosecution. A little closer to our own legal system, the UK government’s 2013 call to end violence against women and children action plan sets out the same kinds of strategies we have seen called for in Australia.

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