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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 14054

Mr JENKINS (Scullin) (10:55): I congratulate the member for Cook on a very splendid contribution to a great Australian woman. Regrettably, I have to report to the Federation Chamber that on a week that commenced with White Ribbon Day on Sunday—Australia's campaign to stop violence against women—that the city of Whittlesea, a large part of which is in the seat of Scullin, sees a great rise in domestic violence. This can be characterised by the interest shown by local papers: 'Police action on family violence' in the Northern Weekly of 23 October and 'Family violence rise sees victims double' in the Whittlesea Leader on 30 October. Since statistics were kept on family violence, there has been an increase of about fourfold: 329 instances in 1999-2000 in the Whittlesea municipality and it has now risen 1,231 in 2009-10.

The community, to its credit, has not just sat back and thought, 'Well, we can't do anything about it.' I want to pay tribute to community agencies that have started to tackle this by trying to engender community awareness about the problems of domestic violence. A couple of weeks back, at Whittlesea Community Connections, we saw the launch of Whittlesea CALD Communities Family Violence Project—a scoping exercise report. This was in conjunction with Whittlesea Community Futures, and had the support of the Scanlon Foundation. It looked at culturally and linguistically diverse communities and it looked at the way in which we can approach the problems of family and domestic violence within those communities. I think, Acting Deputy Speaker Vamvakinou, that you would be aware of this because there are similar problems within your electorate of Calwell, and definitely in the municipality of Hume.

What impressed me about this document is that it sets out a way in which we can go forward and it talks about the things that we can do as a community. For instance, in its integrated approach to family violence it says that the overarching aim should be an integrated model that should support CALD communities, newly arrived migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to break the cycles of family violence, and empower communities to confront and respond to the challenges.

We have the empowerment of CALD women. CALD women are definitely in isolation, not only because of the geographic isolation on the urban fringe but because of language and cultural differences. There is also building of capacity of community and religious leaders, so this goes beyond not only the response by disclosure of incidences but tries to empower these community and religious leaders to take initial action.

The next suggestion is prevention of family violence by early intervention in the settlement processes, with programs targeting young people and reducing recidivism by increasing access to behavioural change programs. A number of those types of programs have been put in place by other agencies throughout the northern suburbs of Melbourne and have been very successful. CPS has a very good program for dealing with Indigenous communities in this regard, and empowering and strengthening fathers in the family unit.

The other document that I wish to pay some attention to in this very brief adjournment speech is a document produced by Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service and Kildonan UnitingCare. It is catalyst paper number 2, Credit, debt and economic abuse. We should really understand that family and domestic violence is not just about physical acts; it can be a whole host of things, including economic abuse. Violence is defined as an act which makes another person feel fearful, unsafe and not in control of their own destiny. Family violence can include physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, verbal and financial abuse. We should recognise that and take steps to tackle that. As this document put out by Kildonan UnitingCare and Good Shepherd, says, it 'aims to encourage discussion of what practices might stop economic abuse continuing as women attempt to rebuild their lives and become financially stable following domestic and family violence'.

I urge the community to come together with these agencies, to tackle full frontal this scourge on our community. (Time expired)