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Children and Family Violence

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Tags: Family Violence, Women, Young People, Arts, LGBTI, Disability, Anti-Discrimination Act

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) -  Madam Speaker, Mr Jaensch will need to be a bit quicker off his seat because I know he has some special guests in here today from Project O at Wynyard.  I know he wanted to attend the launch of the Children's Commissioner's Children and Young People's Unique Experiences of Family Violence report.  I thought I would take this opportunity, seeing these remarkable young women in the Chamber, to thank them so much for the work they do and for their inspiring words at the launch today.  You could have heard a pin drop.  The intelligence and the courage and the heart of these young people from Wynyard High School is an inspiration to us all.  They did mention, Mr Jaensch, that they have had a number of meaningful conversations with you about the work that they are doing to change lives and to save lives in Wynyard.  I also acknowledge that BIG hART, the fantastic arts organisation, is right behind the Project O work.

I thank the Commissioner for Children and Young People in Tasmania for his outstanding report, which was launched today.  What makes this document such an important body of work is that it draws the connection between family violence and what happens to children who are emotionally, physically, spiritually abused or neglected in their home.  It gives young people a voice to tell their stories about what it is like to live in a home with violence.

Here are a couple of quotes.  'Family violence affects how kids learn and develop.  They do not socialise properly or learn how to interact.'  That was from a young women involved in Project O at Wynyard.  We have some very moving and somewhat distressing quotes here from Indy, who is an adult survivor of childhood family violence.  She says, 'I remember standing at the bathroom door thinking she was dead.  That was my impression.  I remember thinking, oh my God, he has really killed her this time.'  Also from Indy: 'I sort of switched from being fearful to being aggressive.  I remember thinking enough is enough.  If she is not going to stand up to you, I am.'  From Linda: 'Every time I reacted it would just - instead of taking it out on me, he took it out on mum again so, you know, everything just had to be held inside.'  From an eight-year-old child - out of the mouths of babes: 'I would hear daddy and mummy yelling and it would wake me up.  It would get louder.  I would run out to the lounge room and sit on mummy's knee.  I sit on mummy's knee so daddy would not hit mummy.  He loves me and he wouldn't want to hurt me.'

The work of the Commissioner for Children in drawing that connection and giving children a voice is compelling reading.  I recommend this report to every member of the House.  Dealing with family violence, making our community safer for women and children is an issue on which we all can agree in this place - and there are not very many issues which you could say that about.  I think that this document is a reminder to us all that there is a long way to go before, as a community, we have effectively dealt with family violence.

The irony was not lost on a number of people who attended today's launch that on the day that we hear about the role of language in sexist attitudes and family violence from the Premier is the same day on which a piece of legislation was tabled in this place that will weaken protections, not just for LGTBI people, but for women, for people living with a disability, for people who have a different gender identity and for people who come from all over the world to live in Tasmania.

I acknowledge the Premier is sincere about tackling family violence but his weakness in caving in to the hard right within his own party and the extreme elements of the church was on show today with the tabling of those disgraceful amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1998.