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ACT government responds to new Canberra domestic violence report with a call for increased awareness

Creating increased awareness of domestic and family violence in the Canberra community will help change attitudes and reduce risk from the issue, the ACT government said on Tuesday.

Responding to a new report from the Domestic Violence Prevention Council, Attorney-General Simon Corbell and Minister for Women Yvette Berry said more needed to be done to limit the high social, health, and economic costs of domestic violence, including sexual assault, in Canberra.

The government agreed to all 33 recommendations from the April Domestic and Family Violence, including Sexual Assault, in the ACT report in some form, acknowledging the impact of the issue on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women living with disability, those from diverse backgrounds, and children.

The response, tabled in the Legislative Assembly, said a long-term systemic approach was needed to create attitude and behavioural changes and to provide an effective policy and community-based response.

As part of a whole-of-government response, a Community Services Directorate taskforce will undertake an analysis of gaps in existing local support systems, due to be completed by the end of the year. 

Agreeing in principle to calls for consideration to ensure procurement and tendering processes include consideration of supplier commitments and policies concerning domestic violence, the government said more work was needed from the Justice and Community Safety directorate alongside improved cross-jurisdictional co-operation. 


The government said more than 10 recommendations aligned with current policies and initiatives. The newly-appointed Coordinator-General for Domestic and Family Violence in the ACT, Vicki Parker, will oversee implementing the wider response on behalf of the government. 

Proposals included better information sharing between government and non-government agencies, improved referral pathways, the need for specialist services including trauma-informed practices to deal with long-term impacts and better utilised public and school education campaigns. 

The government agreed to calls for a range of intervention and support options for both victims and perpetrators and said a review of deaths caused by domestic violence in the ACT would help identify gaps, when it is completed in late 2015. 

"The ACT government recognises the importance of ensuring that women with disabilities who are escaping violence have access to housing tenure, whether it is in public or private housing," the response report said. 

"While it is anticipated that areas for improvement may include the accessibility of local refuges, as well as the potential use of the Housing ACT maintenance funding to ensure that public housing is accessible, it is critical that the private rental market be encouraged to consider and strengthen its role in the provision of accessible housing."

Ms Berry said the report's recommendations would help improve official responses to domestic violence, including to identify gaps and poor practices and systems for women and children.

"Analysis will allow the government to provide more integrated and sustained safety and security measures for victims as well as research on best practice systems in other jurisdictions," Ms Berry said.

"Family, sexual and domestic violence is a complex problem which needs a co-ordinated response and I thank my ministerial colleagues for their support in responding to domestic violence."

Work is ongoing on development of a second five-year implementation plan for the territory's formal prevention of violence against women and children strategy. 

Many of the latest report's recommendations will be addressed in that process.