Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017



Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017

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Parliamentary Record 5


Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




pp 1623 to 1686


Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 9 May 2017 1647 I also draw your attention to an important organisation that the Northern Territory Government provides funding to: Ruby Gaea, which was established in 1987 and is the only non-government provider of specialist post-initial trauma sexual assault counselling, education and training services in the Northern Territory. Ruby Gaea provides free services to the Greater Darwin region and is a not-for-profit, non-religious organisation which has provided significant assistance to many victims over many years. Ruby Gaea has professional, specialist, confidential, ethical counselling to support women and children, girls and boys aged to five to 17 years who have experienced sexual assault at any time in their life. Part of the message that Ruby Gaea gives to victims is to assist them in understanding that sexual assault is an abuse of power, a tool of control that is never acceptable, and that it is not their fault. The Reclaim the Night event is led by Ruby Gaea in the Top End. It is important that people understand and that we talk about these issues. I have participated in Reclaim the Night down Mitchell Street many times, as have many of my colleagues. It gets people on a Friday nightthey look up as they are enjoying a meal or a drink along Mitchell Street. It reminds our community that we all need to look out for each other and that no means no. As the Minister for Health, I am aware there are numerous studies that draw a link between child sexual abuse and negative mental health outcomes. We heard people speak about this in the House this morning. Frequently reported long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse victims can include depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviour. It is also well-known that abuse experienced by these victims can sadly lead to self-harming behaviours or even suicide. Tragically, the Northern Territory has one of the highest rates per capita of suicide in Australia. It is well documented that a history of trauma, including childhood sexual abuse, is a significant social disadvantage. Family violence can increase the vulnerability of young people to suicide. In 2015 suicide accounted for one-third of deaths in the 15 to 24 years age group and one-quarter of those in the age group 25 to 34 years. The rate of child suicide in the Northern Territory tragically is 13.6 per 100 000. That is four times higher than the next state. Our government is committed to reducing the suicide rate by 50% over the next 10 years. To achieve this we are developing a strategy and implementing the initiatives outlined in the Strengthening Mental Health policy document. The Department of Health is working closely with the assistant minister for mental health, suicide prevention and disability, along with me. I acknowledge the contribution of the Member for Karama. She is personally passionate about this issue. She was heavily involved in community-based organisations before she was a member for parliament and she has continued that work. I am very proud to have her as the assistant minister for mental health, suicide prevention and disability. We are conducting round table discussions and town hall forums to inform the development of the wholeof-community suicide prevention strategy. Mental health services, domestic violence organisations, alcohol and other drug organisations, and other organisations that support victims of sexual assault will be consulted to inform the strategy, and members of the community or any other interest group will be invited to participate. It is envisaged that the new strategic framework for suicide prevention will be launched later this year. As a government, we are putting victims of crime first. We believe that survivors of institutional child sexual abuse have the right to seek compensation for harm inflicted upon them. This bill demonstrates muchneeded compassion and commitment to support survivors of child abuse by removing time barriers and allowing them the opportunity to bring their claims before a court. We heard members in the House this morning talking about statistics surrounding victims of child abuse in regard to the impacts on their education. The Member for Arnhem spoke about the average number of years before a victim will come forward; I think it was 22 years. When children are young they do not understand their rights. It is only later in life that they come to understand what may have happened to them. It is important that we remove those limitations, because if