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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13202

Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (10:50): I rise in support of the White Ribbon campaign to end violence against women. In doing so I acknowledge and thank the member for Gellibrand for his commitment to this cause and for moving the motion before the House today.

Driving along Dane Drive in Gosford the other day I was struck by the simplicity of a message that flashed up on a portable neon road sign. It said, 'One in three women experience domestic violence. Brisbane Water police say no to domestic violence. So should you'—simple, powerful and effective. What also struck me was the fact that a simple neon road sign more commonly used to convey messages about speeding, drink-driving and other safety issues in our community was now reminding our community about another important safety message: eliminating all forms of domestic violence. What was once a hidden scourge in our community is now being put up in lights, so to speak, exposed for all the world to see, and people on the Central Coast are able to speak out with one voice about the fact that domestic violence and violence against women is not acceptable in our community.

Unfortunately domestic violence is still one of the most common crimes on the Central Coast, and some of the key Australian statistics are simply alarming. One in three girls over the age of 16 will experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. On average every two hours a police vehicle will respond to a domestic violence call. Seventy-eight women this year alone have died as the result of domestic and family violence. Domestic and family violence now accounts for 40 per cent of all homicides, and alcohol abuse is often a factor in these crimes.

I thank Gosford City Council and the Brisbane Water local area command, led by Superintendent Danny Sullivan, who is himself an ambassador for White Ribbon, for their determination to support a male-led campaign to help change attitudes and behaviours that lead to and perpetuate men's violence against women. I spoke with Superintendent Sullivan, who told me about the unique relationship that Brisbane Water local area command has with Central Coast ADVICE, a local organisation that works towards helping victims escape the cycle of violence by providing information, referrals, support and case management strategies for people on the Central Coast. The superintendent said, 'Due to our strong focus on domestic violence as a crime and our partnerships with Central Coast ADVICE and other agencies, we have a proven record of helping victims to escape the cycle of violence. In fact we have one of the lowest repeat victim rates in the region.'

I doubt whether 10 or 15 years ago a portable neon sign on Dane Drive in Gosford—if in fact it had even been there—would have carried such a public message about domestic violence as I saw the other day. I think that the White Ribbon campaign has definitely made a lot of progress. Today I am very proud to be part of a government, led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, that recently announced $100 million of funding to go into a national Women's Safety Package that seeks to turn words into action.

I am also proud to see that Premier Mike Baird's New South Wales government has recently announced $60 million of funding, including increased support for crisis accommodation. Such accommodation is provided by many local community groups. I want to single out today the Central Coast's Coast Shelter women's refuge. Last weekend the Brisbane Water local area command joined with the Blacktown LAC and the Windsor LAC on a bike ride from Newcastle to Blacktown. This ride—an important ride—not only drew attention to the issue of domestic violence but also raised much-needed funds for the important work that Coast Shelter women's refuge does in our local community. Many other community groups recently also supported the men of the Central Coast in standing up against domestic violence. I acknowledge some of the many recent events that have been held, including the Erina Rotary's White Ribbon 'Comfort in Crisis' dinner and the Gosford White Ribbon Luncheon held on Saturday at the Central Coast Leagues Club. This weekend I will be joining hundreds of men, women and children walking along to the Skillion at Terrigal in a strong message of solidarity and support for the White Ribbon campaign. I encourage members of the local community on the Central Coast to join us on Sunday morning in Terrigal for this very important event.

This strong message is permeating right throughout our community today. It is not just about changing the culture for women today, but also for a generation tomorrow. Every time a male in our community stands up and says that violence against women is not acceptable, he is not just another voice or another statistic. He becomes part of a powerful story, the story of a culture on the Central Coast and, indeed, around Australia that truly honours its wives, partners, sisters, daughters, colleagues and friends. I commend the motion to the House.