Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 March 2017) . . Page.. 1128 ..
weeks; establishing the safer families grants program to provide financial assistance to women leaving violence to establish a new private rental tenancy; and launching the ACT public service family violence toolkit.
We know that domestic and family violence is a widespread social problem that has a significant and lasting impact on all sectors of the community. The scale of the government’s commitment to tackling domestic and family violence is unprecedented in the ACT’s history. This bill represents one part of a very complex goal to achieving a zero tolerance for domestic and family violence in the ACT community. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
MS CODY (Murrumbidgee) (11.54): I rise today to support the Family and Personal Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2017, which will make practical improvements to the lives of those affected by family violence. While the ACT government and the wider community are taking significant steps in building education and awareness around healthy relationships, family and personal violence continues to be a scar on our community.
In this year alone, too many women have lost their lives at the hands of the person they trust, that they are in a relationship with. In fact, there have been 10 women so far this year—that is 10 women in only 11 weeks—who are known to have died at the hands of their spouse or partner.
The death of each of these women is a loss to our society. As well as the unmet potential of a life taken far too soon, they leave behind distraught families, often including children, and a social network. But countless other victims exist. Both men and women in heterosexual and same-sex relationships, irrespective of age or socio-economic status, continue to experience violence in their home.
Family and personal violence impacts deeply on those who are victims. The trauma and sense of shame can have consequences for how victims access support and crisis services. Inefficiencies or red tape in the system, which make access to legal recourse cumbersome, can make a desperate situation seem inescapable.
With the proposed amendments introduced by the Attorney-General, which streamline and facilitate access to the law and provide protection, the ACT government is giving some relief back to those who are victims. Though largely technical in nature, these amendments represent a best-practice approach to how law enforcement and the legal system respond to domestic and family violence.
Furthermore, with these amendments, the ACT government also recognises the uniquely vulnerable space that children often occupy in circumstances of family violence. They will assist in taking steps to ensure that children are protected and that normalcy can be restored to their lives. They improve protections for children who have been exposed to violence by limiting the circumstances in which they can give testimony.
These amendments also place limitations on how protection orders can be served on children. Children are some of our most vulnerable citizens and it is important that we