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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6397

Mr OAKESHOTT (9:51 AM) —I rise to talk about lies, lies and damn statistics about domestic violence in this place and to give a large pat on the back for some very good work being done on the mid-North Coast of New South Wales, where the reporting statistics on domestic violence in the past 12 months have increased. The increase in statistics is being seen generally as a good thing, indicating the amount of work being done on the ground by many different organisations, including the local police, and some combined work being done by organisations, including the women’s and children’s refuge, health authorities, Centrelink and the many other core advocacy services. The reason the increase in statistics is seen as a good thing is that increased reporting does indicate an increased level of comfort in accessing government services and support services. It also means that government and public authorities can work well with the full, holistic range of people involved in the very problematic and complicated issue of domestic violence. That includes not only victims but the families of victims. It also involves working with perpetrators to try to put in place preventative measures into the future. So these people deserve a huge pat on the back for the good local work that is being done. Domestic violence was raised in my first speech in this place as a critical issue for the mid-North Coast.

I also give a pat on the back to the government, and in particular to the member for Fraser, Bob McMullan, who only last month made a speech which has not been picked up in the media anywhere but which makes reference to one of Australia’s greatest policy failings, and that is the issue of gender equality, and domestic violence in particular. I would love a debate to happen in Australia on the back of that. It seems to be an undiscussed issue and therefore an even more problematic issue than it should be.

We in the Asia-Pacific region generally do have some confronting statistics about domestic violence and gender related issues. We are starting to be the standout in the world on these issues. I would hope that it is not seen by members of parliament as a soft issue, a women’s issue, a non-economic issue; this should be a priority discussion for all of us. We do have some good programs on the ground on the mid-North Coast that are practical and that are now starting to be rolled out state-wide. I would love them to be rolled out nationwide. If we can get some engagement at a political and parliamentary level, who knows—we might even start to lead the way in the Asia-Pacific as well. So congratulations to all involved on the mid-North Coast. Hopefully, the words from government can turn into actions sometime in the near future. (Time expired)