Page 3479 - Week 11 - Thursday, 24 September 2015

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A broad range of stakeholders attended, including community experts, front-line workers, first responders and, importantly, people with lived experience of domestic violence. A number of ministers and other members of the Assembly attended. I am sure I speak for all members when I say it was a valuable experience.

I had the opportunity to speak to a woman who had lived through serious domestic violence. She spoke about her experiences of the ACT justice system and highlighted the significant problems that she faced when attempting to secure a domestic violence order. Her story demonstrated to me that although the task ahead of us is not easy, now more than ever it is vital that we maintain ongoing and strong commitment to supporting those who have experienced domestic and family violence.

While gender-based violence, including domestic violence, cannot be eliminated through laws alone, legal measures are an essential component of any response to it. Therefore this bill is being introduced to ensure that our legislative regime relating to domestic violence and family violence is streamlined and effective. Consistent with the government’s recognition that addressing domestic and family violence takes a multifaceted strategy, the government will continue to progress a number of other non-legislative responses to addressing this problem.

For example, I recently tabled the government response to the Domestic Violence Prevention Council’s Report on domestic and family violence, including sexual assault, in the ACT. The government will use the council’s recommendations as the basis for ongoing change and continued improvement in responding to domestic and family violence.

In addition, government reforms and initiatives have been developed to align with the government’s commitments outlined in the second implementation plan for the ACT’s prevention of violence against women and children strategy 2011-17 which I launched with my colleague Minister Berry, as the Minister for Women, on 17 August this year. The second implementation plan provides a whole-of-government framework for addressing domestic and family violence and reflects our commitments under the national plan to reduce violence against women and children.

The policy objectives of the amendments in this bill are aimed at addressing a systemic, widespread and pervasive human rights violation experienced largely by women. More broadly, the purpose of these amendments is to protect the lives and safety of women and children where there is a risk posed to them because of violence. This purpose supports a number of rights outlined in our human rights law with a particular focus on upholding the right to protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, protection of family and children, and the right to liberty and security of the person.

This bill provides a good example of the balance between the human rights of alleged perpetrators and the public interests in protecting an individual’s right to safety within their home and in our community. The limitations on human rights in this bill are proportionate and justified because they are the least restrictive means available to achieve the purpose of protecting victims of domestic and family violence as well as the broader community.

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