Page 795 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 18 March 2015

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As I said yesterday, and I reiterate it this morning: these figures are unacceptable in modern Australia. We simply can no longer tolerate them.

Every single facet of our society is affected by this scourge of violence. Given recent events, no-one can pretend that Canberra’s many socioeconomic and educational advantages make us immune. Domestic and family violence does not discriminate. It does not define itself by class, age, race or sexuality. It occurs in Australia’s richest suburbs and in our poorest, and in our most remote towns.

Given that it affects every single part of our community and detracts from us all, I have made it very clear that the task of combating this abhorrent violence is simply not the job of one minister in government. Each member of this executive, and indeed this government and this place, has a role in tackling family violence at its source, supporting and protecting those who experience violence against them, to address the causes of violence, and effectively deal with perpetrators.

Ministers have been working closely with service providers, experts and, importantly, those who have personally experienced violence to discuss what is working and what more needs to be done. The Attorney-General’s recent announcements regarding a targeted funding boost of $300,000 and reform of the victims of crime financial assistance scheme are two very practical steps that the government is taking right now to provide support to victims as well as those working every day on the front line.

I would also like to commend the recently launched campaign encouraging everyone to take responsibility and take action if they are aware of domestic violence occurring. The “What Can You Do?” campaign provides clear information on what steps you can take to support those experiencing violence and how to speak out. Community-led responses are equally necessary to demonstrate that we will no longer stand by in wilful ignorance.

Of particular note in this motion is the role that the Council of Australian Governments can play in raising awareness, providing support for those working at the coalface, implementing better protection systems and, importantly, seeking to reduce recidivism.

This is a national problem, and it is also one that demands both a local and an overarching national response. That is why, as I indicated yesterday, the ACT government is part of a $30 million national awareness campaign that we are co-funding, together with the commonwealth, the states and the Northern Territory.

As we discussed yesterday, raising awareness about the services available for victims will only be effective, of course, if those same services are properly and sustainably funded in the future. Without wanting to harp on this point—but it does need to be made—the commonwealth’s cuts to the Women’s Legal Centre and the domestic violence crisis translation interpreter services are counterproductive. I think this has been realised, though, at a national level. The critical service that these particular centres are providing to women trying to escape domestic violence is being recognised.

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