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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 14 May 2015) . . Page.. 1817 ..

I welcome federal Labor coming out strongly against this change. I have spoken to my federal colleagues this morning. As the former minister who introduced the scheme, Jenny Macklin, has said, Labor’s maternity leave scheme was designed precisely to complement employer schemes. I also welcome the comments of Greens Adam Bandt and Sarah Hanson-Young, indicating their opposition.

Members interjecting

MADAM SPEAKER: Can we stop the conversation across the chamber, Mr Coe and Mr Barr.

MS BERRY: I hope this unanimous position remains here in the Assembly. I welcome other members arguing against this unfair and ill-thought-out policy, with its potential to disadvantage Canberra women and families.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Lawder.

MS LAWDER: Minister, are you aware that domestic violence is not the leading cause of homeless among women? It is one of the leading causes, according to AIHW data, despite what you have said on several occasions.

MS BERRY: Yes, it is one of the causes leading to homelessness. It is one of the main causes leading to homelessness across the country, not just here in the ACT. After 18 months of the “Prime Minister for women” talking about domestic violence as a national issue that requires a national response, we have seen exactly how deep that commitment is. Domestic violence is not only a national problem in its scope. It is a national problem and it requires a response. The culture of violence causes women to flee across the country in search of stability, support and a fresh start.

It is one thing to raise awareness, but in terms of funding needs, the rubber hits the road when women take the courageous step of leaving. It is the most dangerous point in the cycle of violence and for many women, and it is a process that they will go through many times before they finally escape. Here in the ACT we commit significant funding to providing support, not just in our crisis services but in our housing system, which provides long-term support and the hope of a fresh start.

There is always more that we can do, and it needs to be a national response. When speaking recently with women from across Australia at the Beryl Women’s Refuge, I heard firsthand about the disparity of responses offered by state governments. I heard about housing waiting times, even for women in crisis, and about the short-term nature of support that was offered in other jurisdictions.

It is not viable for states to cross-subsidise each other. What we need is a serious response from our national government that allows women to stay in their own communities, that makes sure that high quality services are available wherever women live, and that goes beyond awareness to a full response.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

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