House debates

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Statements by Members

Greenway Electorate: Family and Domestic Violence

4:08 pm

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to raise some incredible initiatives in my local community to combat the scourge of family violence. On 21 November the Blacktown Workers Club will again host their annual White Ribbon breakfast. The breakfast starts with the arrival of the White Ribbon team awareness ride. The team comprises police officers and community members who have dedicated their time to take part in the ride from Newcastle to Blacktown. The purpose of the ride is to raise awareness of and promote community involvement to stamp out the insidious crime of family violence that continues to plague many communities across Australia.

Last year the event attracted around 750 attendees who were there to walk and 50 cyclists who took part in the ride. A staggering $92,000 was raised for important groups such as the Mount Druitt WASH House, Blacktown Women's and Girls' Health Centre and White Ribbon Australia. These groups provide help and education programs for family violence victims. The work they do is vital—and, sadly, necessary—to help those who are most in need in our community.

The Blacktown Workers Club has also fielded a team in the annual City to Surf event for the past couple of years. All funds raised from the run went to the White Ribbon foundation. In May this year the club held a race meeting at the Hawkesbury Race Club to proudly raise funds and awareness of the 'Say no to domestic violence' initiative. This year the bar has been set high: to repeat the enormous efforts of all those involved in previous White Ribbon breakfasts. I have no doubt that, with the dedication of the volunteers, participants and staff involved, they will exceed the target set by last year's event.

According to the New South Wales government's Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, a staggering 2,014 incidents of family violence were recorded within the Blacktown local government area from July 2015 to June this year. This figure, I am so sad to say, is almost double the number of incidents recorded in the neighbouring Penrith local government area, with 1,037 incidents, and almost three times that of the Parramatta local government area, with 738 incidents. These figures are way too high. They are too alarming to contemplate, but, contemplate them and take action on them these community groups do.

I am also proud to say that in March this year the Blacktown City Council became a White Ribbon accredited workplace, and, at the time, was one of only two New South Wales local councils with the White Ribbon accreditation. Initiatives like this will assist those affected by family violence by providing them with a flexible, understanding and safe workplace. I think it is important that other workplaces adopt this approach for the benefit of employees who, sadly, may be victims of this insidious crime. I would like to recognise the hard work and dedication to this cause by the General Manager of the Blacktown Workers Club, Neale Vaughan, President Kay Kelly and the team of directors. They have shown that by coming together as a community we can continue to fight and beat this awful crime. I want to also mention the tireless work done by our local police officers, community agencies and members of the public. Without community involvement such as this, family violence will continue to be a silent crime that affects so many.