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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 March 2018) . . Page.. 794 ..

sexual abuse is made available to parents, carers and community members. As I said earlier, we welcome a further conversation about how we can better promote that information, about whether we are providing information at the right time in the right place to make it the best we can for parents, and whether we need to supplement that information with additional information that will make it easier for parents to have conversations with their children about this very serious issue.

Finally, I would also like to touch quickly on some of the great work that is occurring in ACT schools to promote child safety. Respectful relationships have been a core component of the curriculum in Canberra public schools since 2008. Ongoing social and emotional learning in schools aims to improve the skills of children and young people to engage in respectful relationships, including to prevent violence and sexual assault. ACT schools have accessed programs from a range of providers, including Our Watch and their “the line” campaign, White Ribbon’s breaking the silence schools program, and programs from organisations such as the YWCA and the PCYC. 

The ACT government will continue to support evidence-based social and emotional learning and a whole-school approach to respectful relationships, education and cultural change.

In closing, I again want to thank Mrs Kikkert for bringing this motion forward. I emphasise that my amendment is intended only to clarify and strengthen the motion. We are happy to work with the opposition and with any community members who have proposals to improve the information available to families in our community, including on the important, sensitive and extremely complex matter of child sexual abuse.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (10.48): I thank Mrs Kikkert for raising this very important topic today. I would like to begin by saying that, of course, the Greens want to see a world where children are safe, a world where children can live free from emotional, psychological, physical or sexual abuse. I think this is taken as a given. Unfortunately, we see that children do suffer from these things in our community, and the challenging discussion is about how we prevent this as much as possible. The sad reality is that sexual abuse of children does occur, and it occurs at rates beyond the comprehension of the average citizen. It is underestimated and under-reported, and its impacts are long-lasting and far-reaching.

We have seen an unprecedented focus on child sexual abuse through the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. However, this has not addressed the incidence of child sexual abuse that occurs in non-institutional settings.

We know that most cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by family members or caregivers who are known to the child, including other relatives, siblings and friends. It stands to reason, then, that parents can be in a position to notice, and respond protectively to their children if signs of such abuse are noticed. The biggest risk is, of course, when it is a parent doing the abusing.

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