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Monday, 23 June 2014
Page: 125

Ms PRICE (Durack) (10:45): I wish to discuss an issue that is all too prevalent, not just in my electorate of Durack but, sadly, across the nation: domestic and family violence. In March this year I was given the honour of representing the Prime Minister at the UN International Women's Day celebration in Perth. There was much talk about the plight of women around the world, living in poverty and suffering from mental and physical abuse. However, it is the statistics relating to our Australian sisters, mothers, daughters and aunts that struck the greatest chord with me.

Domestic violence is a complex issue that can be defined as an act of violence or abuse that takes place between people who have had or are having an intimate relationship. These can be acts of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse and the desired effect is often to control through fear and intimidation. I believe it is important to note that, whilst the majority of domestic cases involve men carrying out violent acts against women, men too can be victims of abuse perpetrated by their female partners, as can people in same-sex relationships. It is truly disturbing that a 2005 personal safety survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that, within their lifetime, about one in three women will experience physical violence and almost one in five will experience sexual violence. The same report stated that more than a million women had experienced physical or sexual assault by their male current or ex-partner since the age of 15.

While these statistics are shocking, the figures I found truly disturbing were those for Indigenous women and women in rural and remote areas. Durack has the third-highest proportion of Indigenous residents—some 16.3 per cent—so to learn that Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence and that women in remote and rural areas were more prone to the risks and effects of violence was truly disturbing. Ensuring that these women and their families have adequate access to support services, that their voices are heard and that assistance is available is imperative. Domestic and family violence has far reaching effects. It not only leaves a lasting impact on the individual but also their children, who are often left with significant emotional and physical trauma and can often consider the violence as normal.

I had the pleasure of attending a fundraiser on the weekend for the women's refuge in Port Hedland. Well done to Charlene Peters for organising such a fabulous event and thanks to her and her husband, Peter, and their friends for making Brad and I feel so very welcome. The women's refuge is often the last resort for women in Port Hedland who have experienced domestic violence. Money raised over the weekend will help the refuge to continue to provide this critical service, plus it will provide funds to create a welcoming garden at the refuge. Charlene, you are indeed a Hedland hero.