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Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Page: 13520

Mr NEVILLE (HinklerThe Nationals Deputy Whip) (20:39): I am very pleased to speak tonight about White Ribbon Day, which we will mark this Friday, 25 November. White Ribbon Day is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It is sobering to think that we need such a day at all, but sadly violence against women and children is prevalent in our society and, indeed, around the world and we need to do something about it. The essence of the campaign is to make it clear that violence against women and children is an issue for men—not the women and children themselves. One in three women will experience physical violence and one in five will experience sexual violence during their lifetime. These are horrendous statistics, and they make awareness campaigns like White Ribbon Day all the more important.

Research shows that about 300,000 domestic and family violence events occur in Queensland alone every year, while a nationwide study conducted by the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children found that nationwide the cost of domestic violence is estimated to be around $13.6 billion a year. This is an extraordinary figure. According to Dr Rachelle Braaf from the University of New South Wales, domestic violence is 'a huge cost to the Australian economy—not only in responding directly to domestic violence, but also to things like the impact on work and productivity, impact on the healthcare system, impact on the legal system and so on'.

Domestic violence is a particular issue for regional communities, which do not necessarily have the facilities and services to support victims of violence. The agencies which operate in my own electorate do an outstanding job; but they, like all others, are under constant pressure to continue providing their services because of the prevalence of violence against women and children. Bundaberg volunteer Pat Faircloth recently told the Bundaberg NewsMail, our local paper, that the Wide Bay region had a very high rate of violence amongst its young men and that this aspect would be the focus of this year's event. The statistics paint a grim picture. Between July 2009 and June 2010, Bundaberg Magistrates Court handed out 895 domestic violence orders, amounting to about 300 more than in Gladstone and roughly the same as Hervey Bay and Maryborough combined. In the same time frame, 627 people made applications for domestic and family violence orders at Hervey Bay Magistrates Court, while in Maryborough 296 applications were made.

Just what has caused the spike is unclear, but I would think that a combination of factors might be responsible, including tight family budgets, job pressures and unemployment. The good news is that the various communities in my electorate are committed to eliminating violence against women. We have a number of male ambassadors who have made a commitment to stamping out domestic violence. To date, our White Ribbon ambassadors are St Mary's Catholic School Deputy Principal David Boge; Bundaberg MP Jack Dempsey; Bundaberg Brewed Drinks Chairman, Cliff Fleming; NewsMail journalist Vince Habermann; Bundaberg Police Sergeant Ken Hendrie; teacher's aide and NewsMail columnist Jackson McGovern; Queensland Rugby League Wide Bay North Operations Manager, David Pearce; ABC Radio Regional Program Manager, Ross Peddlesden; YMCA Bundaberg CEO, Ian Rowan; Bundaberg Hospital's Dr Harrie Swanepoel; Bundaberg High Community Education Counsellor Clint Thompson;    Bundaberg Eye Clinic Operations Manager, Robbie Boyes; and Hervey Bay Magistrate Graeme Tatnell.

I also commend our local LNP candidate for the seat of Burnett, Stephen Bennett, who joined the Reclaim the Night march in Bundaberg on 28 October. It is good to see candidates like him drilling down into community issues. I commend the member for Fowler for helping to raise awareness of White Ribbon Day by raising it in Private Members' Business this week. I regret that I was not able to speak during the debate itself, but I look forward to lending the cause my strongest support.