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Monday, 30 November 2015
Page: 14019


Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (11:48): I thank my good friend the member for Lalor for moving this important motion before the House today. Too many Australian women experience domestic violence every day, and the emotional, physical, social and economic cost of that is just enormous. Ending violence against women is a challenge that belongs to the whole community, not any one individual or group. In meeting that challenge, it is vital that we have adequately funded support services in place, that justice and protection for victims is readily available and that awareness programs are ongoing, monitored and assessed for their effectiveness. We must also insist on quality reporting in the media, to help build awareness of the impacts of gender stereotyping and inequality. We have to demand a whole-of-government approach, across multiple jurisdictions, to really address the structural inequalities in our society. Each of these issues is identified in the terms of the motion that is before the House.

Today, my contribution to the debate will focus on two issues in particular: the work of community legal centres and the activities in my electorate of Newcastle as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. Community legal centres provide much-needed advice to some 200,000 disadvantaged Australians every year, including women who are fleeing domestic violence and abusive relationships, but, because of the actions of this Liberal government, community legal centres are at breaking point. Last week, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the chairperson of the National Association of Community Legal Centres, Ms Rosslyn Monro, acknowledged that, while the shift to raising broad awareness of family violence was happening, without a reversal of funding cuts into their services, increased awareness would mean nothing. She said that community legal centres:

… see first hand on a daily basis the toll Australia's family violence crisis is having on women and children across Australia. However, CLCs face a 30% cut to their funding nationally from 2017 under the new National Partnership Agreement for Legal Assistance Services. Similarly, other frontline family violence services, including the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, face funding cuts and uncertainty.

To date, the government is in denial about these cuts and refuses to acknowledge or give reason as to why it will not commit to renewing desperately needed funds. Labor's $70 million package to address family violence commits $50 million to frontline legal services—it is time this Liberal government did the same.

It is also noted in the motion that the 16 days of activism for the elimination of violence against women started last Wednesday, on 25 November, and will run through to 10 December. Events and activities are occurring all around the world as part of the 16 days of activism. Today, I would like to recognise some of the activities taking place in my electorate of Newcastle. Last Wednesday, 25 November, the 16 days of activism was launched in Newcastle, with a White Ribbon breakfast and community function hosted by the lord mayor. On Friday, men and boys from Newcastle took part in the Walk a Mile Koori Style—a walk led by Aboriginal male youth—taking the White Ribbon pledge and raising awareness that society must change the beliefs and behaviours that excuse, justify or condone violence and inequality. Also on Friday, the Newcastle community attended the Sista Code White Christmas Party to raise funds to help women start their lives again after escaping domestic violence.

There was also a gathering at St Johns Anglican Church, hosted by the Victims of Crime Assistance League, called the Christmas Tree of Angels, which brought people together to remember those touched by or lost to violence. There was a flash mob held by NOVA for women and children and there will be another next Saturday, in a surprise location in Newcastle. Last Saturday, I was honoured to take part in a ceremony of tying white ribbons to trees to commemorate the lives of the 78 women who have been killed through acts of violence this year alone. That event was hosted by Timeless Textiles, and I commend them for their ongoing activism in this space.

There are many more events happening across Newcastle in coming days, and I congratulate all involved not only for raising awareness but also for their efforts working on the front line, day in and day out, to support women and children in our community.

Debate adjourned.