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Media - Fixing the domestic and family violence crisis

22nd November, 2023.

I speak in favour of the public interest debate motion moved by the member for Wakehurst. What a good man he is to move the motion. We are all proud of that. Sadly, one woman is battered every nine seconds. I will remain silent for the next nine seconds so that members can think about the one woman who is being battered right now—in nine seconds there will be another. Thank you. If that is not enough, there is always, as members know, the sexual and emotional violence that many people suffer. It is not always as obvious as a black eye and it is often very hidden. I still remember my daughter returning home after leaving a friend's place. When she left, her friend was putting in a mouthguard and putting on multiple jumpers. When my daughter asked why, she said that she knew that she was going to be beaten up that night and that, if she put multiple jumpers on, the bruises would not show so much.

When I talked to the convenor of the Camden-Wollondilly Domestic Violence Committee in my electorate—that wonderful and amazing Tanya Whitehouse—I was horrified to hear that the Macarthur Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service receives the highest referrals in all of New South Wales from police for domestic violence incidents they attend every month. It is almost always the highest receiver in the entire State of the serious threat matters—the women most at risk. If we are not the first, we are second or third—it is not a very proud place to put ourselves. The statistics in Macarthur have never decreased and there is not enough funding to cover the service's workload. It has extra workers funded through alternative means, not through government funding.

The alternative funding is not ongoing and the workload is horrendous. Yet the service never has a waiting list because it never turns anyone away; somehow it manages. Other domestic violence services at some point throughout the year, or on several occasions, will have a waiting list and will not accept referrals, but the Macarthur service always finds a space. It is really interesting being an Independent member in this House. I do not want to particularly hear about what the political parties have done before. I know they have all worked hard on this issue before, but I look forward to working together on a solution. I think we all have that in our hearts. We can speak out and educate, but the most positive action we can take for those suffering is to enhance those women's ability to get into stable housing—as a start. This is a wonderful public interest debate.