Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 available, the police press charges. That state of affairs illustrates social and cultural values. The reality is that evidence in incidents of domestic violence comes largely from the statements of women. Its 'availability' is largely informed by attitudes of police and others to women and to violence. Indeed, it is not so long since a woman1s stories about domestic violence would almost automatically be discounted, particularly if she was married and 1 iving in the same home as her spouse with a couple of kids. Even within the last 10 years, that was the prevailing attitude. Mr Manzie: discounted. That is wrong, Terry. They were not automatically Mr SMITH: They were almost automatically discounted. I am not havi ng a go at the Attorney-General or the government. I am stati ng that, as he has recogni sed and as hi s government has recogni sed, there has been a dramatic turnaround in community attitudes on this very question during the last 10 years. Certainly, 10 years ago, it was very difficult for a woman who was a victim of domestic violence to receive any redress for her complaints. The police were reluctant to take such matters up and the community in general simply did not want to know about them. Thankfully, that is starting to change and I congratulate the Attorney-Genera 1 for hi s efforts in refl ect i ng commun i ty attitudes on the matter. There is, however, more to be done~ For example, there is no Territory-wide provision of personal safety or protective behaviour programs for schoolchildren. We all know that they are most at risk. There is no adequate provision for 24-hour sexual assault counselling services. Aboriginal women and children do not have access to adequate services required as a result of violence. Professional people such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, psychologists and social workers do not have access to training programs in their work places to assist them in the identification and treatment of violence. There is currently no service for victims of crimes. There is a committee to examine the needs of victims but we do not have any victims of crime legislation. Formal equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation and policy do not exist in the Northern Territory. That is particularly important because it .is a further way in which a government in the Northern Territory can demonstrate to the community that it is not prepared to tolerate any form of discrimination, whether it be violent or non-violent, against sections of its own community. Equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation and policy is fundamental to changes in values and attitudes in the community and is also fundamental to many of the recommendations in this report. The opposition supports most of the recommendations in the report. The document is detailed and the recommendations have economic and other implications for many portfolio areas - for example, education, welfare, health and police. As a bottom line, a Labor government in the Northern Territory makes a commitment to limit and eventually eliminate many of the problems associated with violence. We see as important the introduction of equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation, to ensure adequate and appropriate training for those at the front line in dealing with violence, to establish comprehensive victims of crime services - not simply a victims of crime advisory service - and to ensure that adequately staffed and adequately funded chil d protection and chil d abuse prevent i on programs are put in place. Those measures are the bottom line if we are to take seriously the very real questions of violence in the Northern Territory. 8749
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