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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 March 2015) . . Page.. 793 ..

trialling three different groups at the child and family centres in Tuggeranong, west Belconnen and Gungahlin for women with children who have experienced domestic violence.

The reason why this service has been taken out across our community is that it is not only women in the city and surrounding suburbs that experience domestic violence. The women’s information officers are rotating through each of the three child and family centres at Tuggeranong, west Belconnen and Gungahlin. I believe that this new service has created more accessible and responsive services than the previous centrally located shopfront. This also works in with what the ACT government is building with the human services blueprint, which will make Canberra’s human services system more integrated and cohesive.

I welcome the Attorney-General’s recognition that we need to think about the law and whether we need to change it. We need to remember that domestic violence is a crime and, as such, our legal system, our judges, our lawyers and our courts need to support and instigate appropriate sanctions, as with any other crime. But this is not a problem that can be solved with legal responses on their own. It is a heartbreaking reality that the fear of prosecution has not prevented even the most awful intimate partner violence, and that no amount of protection can give back to a woman experiencing violence the freedom that the perpetrator takes from her.

We need a response that starts with the individual and addresses violence in the way they want it addressed. For many women, the thought of criminal prosecution of their partner is a deterrent to reporting behaviour before it escalates. For some, the shame of public court proceedings or financial difficulty makes them stay away. We need to meet women experiencing violence where they are. And regardless of what they want to see happen to their partner, we need to help them leave violence on their own terms.

In the long term we need to make sure no woman ever has to make the hard choices faced by those who experience domestic violence. To achieve this we need a whole-of-community response that continues to send the message that we have seen in recent days—that our community will not tolerate domestic violence and sexual abuse.

I think a meeting for all members of this place with the Domestic Violence Prevention Council is a good beginning to involving all members in the work of ending violence. The Domestic Violence Prevention Council brings together 12 member representatives from many groups in our community. It includes representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, the culturally and linguistically diverse community, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service and women with disability. They sit on the council with representatives of Policing and ACT government, including Health, Chief Minister and cabinet, Justice and Community Safety and the Community Services directorates.

Listening to this diversity of voices and their expertise will help members of this place to understand the complexity of addressing domestic violence, and listening to the experience of women who have experienced violence will help them understand their needs.

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