Page 1588 - Week 06 - Thursday, 23 July 2020

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Status of the public health emergency due to COVID-19—Acting Chief Health Officer Report—26 June 2020, dated 26 June 2020.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—ACT Government response—Ministerial statement, 23 July 2020.

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the ministerial statement.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Government—2020 safer families policy

Ministerial statement

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (10.21): Today I am tabling the fourth annual safer families statement during a time of unprecedented challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The format for my statement today is slightly different, as a reflection of the difficult times and environment that we have faced this year. While I will highlight some of the significant achievements that the ACT government and community have made over the past 12 months, I will, firstly, focus on the actions taken to respond to domestic and family violence during the pandemic.

The first half of this year saw unprecedented challenges both locally and globally. Firstly, there was the horrific bushfire season, followed sharply by the outbreak of COVID-19. We know from the growing body of evidence that during and after a crisis and disasters, the risk, prevalence and severity of domestic and family violence increases.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought some additional challenges for families as the Australian and ACT governments put measures in place to halt the spread of the virus by requiring people to quarantine or self-isolate at home. For some people, their homes are not safe places to be. Isolating at home and continuous contact with a perpetrator of violence exacerbated the risks for women and children. This risk was compounded as health and economic stressors increased and impacts were felt across our community.

The pandemic also brought significant challenges for the service system as essential government and community organisations worked hard to transition to different ways of providing support. The challenges and demands placed on our human services sector, particularly on our community partners, was unprecedented. Canberrans met these challenges by working together in positive and collaborative partnerships to make sure our essential services were open and operating to keep families safe during lockdown.

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