Page 2596 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 August 2015

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tragic events in our community earlier this year provide everyone with a stark and tragic reminder of the seriousness of domestic violence and the impact that it has within our own community.

Women usually experience violence at the hands of men that they know, often behind closed doors. For some women, it may occur over many years. Sadly, as we have recently seen, for far too many women this has ended in their death. Domestic and family violence not only violates women and children’s right to safety but impacts on their health, their sense of self, their ability to work and their ability to participate in the community.

Like many, I attended the Domestic Violence Prevention Council’s extraordinary meeting in April to listen to the experts in this field about the work we still need to do to better protect women and children and improve our responses. As with Mr Corbell, what perhaps struck me most in that meeting were the personal stories that were told by young women, particularly the young woman who had lived the reality and the impacts of a system that is not seamless, a system that is still plagued by contrary rules and that does not protect and support women in the ways that it should and the way that it must.

This particular woman’s bravery and honesty in addressing that meeting really does need to be honoured. We can honour her by being equally brave and honest in challenging ourselves and changing the ways we think, the ways we work individually and as a system, and the ways we respond to violence against women and children.

This may mean giving up some autonomy in order to truly work collaboratively with others. It may mean examining and changing processes we have in place that we take for granted as necessary. It may mean truly interrogating why our systems are not working or accessible for women with diverse backgrounds and experiences. But it is clear that unless we do these things bravely and honestly, our systems will fail too many women, and failure on our part can mean death on theirs.

The invaluable information provided at the Domestic Violence Prevention Council meeting was incorporated by the council into their report. Many of the actions they recommended have been agreed to and incorporated into the second implementation plan of the 2011-17 ACT prevention of violence against women and children strategy Our responsibility: ending violence against women and children. Thanks to the input from the council meeting and report, which reflects their extensive and combined knowledge and wisdom, I believe the second implementation plan is now an infinitely better and more effective document.

A persistent and loud message at the meeting and in the report was the need to ensure that appropriate actions in the second implementation plans are actually undertaken and that this is monitored. The new reporting framework against the second implementation plan acknowledges that message. Each directorate will be required to consider the implementation plan and identify actions that they could or should take. They will then be required to incorporate these into an action plan that will be overseen and presented to the social inclusion and equality subcommittee for consideration.

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