Page 2073 - Week 06 - Thursday, 8 June 2017
Each of us knows that domestic and family violence is a widespread problem. We see it locally, nationally and globally. It has a significant and lasting impact on all sectors of our community. Statistics provided by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, ANROWS, found that one in six women and one in 19 men have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner. For 62 per cent of the women who have experienced physical assault at the hands of a man, the most recent incident was in their home. More than one woman is killed every week. The violence often happens behind closed doors, in a place that is supposed to be a safe haven. It happens to people regardless of their beliefs or social, cultural or economic situation and it has devastating consequences.
In May 2015, the Australian Institute of Criminology found that, despite the national rate of homicide declining, two in every five homicide victims are killed by a family member. Up to 88 per cent of those deaths occurred within the victim’s home.
Research also tells us that domestic and family violence accounts for more preventable ill health and premature death among women under the age of 45 years than any other of the well-known risk factors, including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking. Domestic and family violence might often happen behind closed doors, but it is everybody’s responsibility to help guard against this insidious type of violence. As I will remind members today, it takes more than just governments to commit the will and the funding to create real change. It takes action and commitment from the whole community.
Three detailed reports were undertaken in the ACT in 2015 and 2016 which served to identify, dissect and investigate the full ambit of issues from all angles and ensure that we have a full picture of this issue. The government response made 38 separate commitments to this. Our goal is to deliver whole of community change to achieve zero tolerance for domestic and family violence in the ACT. We all know that this goal will be difficult to measure as we continue to build the evidence base on the effectiveness of our efforts. We know that for real change to occur, we need to keep at it.
In the 2015-16 year, ACT Policing attended over 3,400 family violence incidents and recorded over 2,200 offences for family violence, with the three main offences being assault, property damage or breaching a domestic violence protection order. The Director of Public Prosecutions commenced 710 criminal proceedings relating to domestic and family violence, which is up 37 per cent from the year prior. The Domestic Violence Crisis Service answered around 24,000 incoming contacts to the 24/7 crisis line and is already predicting an increase in demand for these services. Legal Aid provided 1,745 advice and assistance services related to domestic violence and personal protection order matters, which is a 27 per cent increase from the year prior.
We are yet to receive the latest data for 2016-17, but we do know that Legal Aid has provided assistance to an additional 100 victims in the first three quarters of 2016-17 compared to the same period in the previous year; that between July and