Standing and sessional orders

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — I rise to support the motion moved by the Leader of the House and commend her on bringing this motion to the house in her name but undoubtedly also with the support of the Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, whose office and department have worked so hard to bring this special and significant event — indeed this historic event — to the Parliament of Victoria.

I note that the manager of opposition business has moved an amendment to the motion. From listening to the minister speak and seeing the reaction of the Leader of the House, this has been a bit of a surprise. In the spirit of bipartisanship that has been shown around this issue and the fact that we have been collaborating on how the occasion will take place, even including, as the previous speaker just said, suggestions from the opposition about features of the event, this is a strange amendment given that the feeling around this occasion has been very supportive and very collaborative.

I note though, as the Leader of the House said, that we have had a really busy business program this year, and we have always had ample opportunity to speak on bills. I think our hard work and the endeavours of the government to make sure that Parliament has been a very busy, workmanlike place has meant that we have got through a considerable amount of legislation that has enabled the government to deliver on many of its election promises, which has been a hallmark of this first year in government. We work in a situation where we can fill our days up, and if we continue to work hard in the next two days we will be able to manage the five bills before the house, as well as all fully participate in what is going to be a historic event.

As the minister has said, there has been assembled an array of experts on this issue taking into account different backgrounds, different sectors and different experiences, and I think we all look forward to having this knowledge, this wisdom, this research and this information provided to the house. The fact is, as so many other speakers have said, that family violence is a very complex issue and we do not have all the answers to it. We have a royal commission underway, and that is an important step in the right direction.

We do, however, need to hear from other people, who have much to tell us.

I know from my own experience in my electorate that we have record rates of family violence. Indeed the other night I was watching Call Me Dad, a feature length documentary that is going to appear on the ABC on Thursday night, with the minister, and I recommend it to everybody. It was a bit confronting for me, because one of the first scenes was of a counselling group in my electorate for men who had committed family violence; there were scenes from my own electorate. As I said, we have a very high incidence of family violence in the City of Casey. To see men talking about this issue and trying to come to grips with the decisions they had made — the awful decisions they had made — in being involved in family violence was nevertheless a very confronting experience.

Thursday will be an opportunity, again, for all of us to listen and learn. Yes, it will be confronting. Yes, it will be complex. Yes, we will still be asking questions after this historic sitting, but it is a very important step in making inroads into bringing down these rates of family violence. As one of the counsellors said to one of the men, ‘You make a choice to undertake family violence’. On Thursday we will all have a choice to take part in this occasion — and I hope we see everybody in here — and after the sitting we will also have choices to hopefully support the government’s agenda in the future about how we tackle this issue. We have had bipartisan support so far, and I hope in the future that esprit of collaboration and working together to solve one of society’s greatest problems continues after Thursday. I commend the motion.