I rise this evening, like so many here in this chamber, to support this motion moved by the member for Warringah. I thank her for bringing it forward and I thank every member who has made a contribution; there’s not a word I don’t agree with. This is a deep and deeply distressing issue.

I want to acknowledge the words of the member for Lingiari, who drew attention to rural and regional issues, and in particular the issues that face our First Nations women and their families. I want to add some more about rural and regional Australia, because it’s really important. I absolutely support every part of what the member for Warringah is calling for, but we must always ensure that we are context specific.

I have met, and continue to meet, many frontline services, including people from Women’s Health Goulburn North East, Centre Against Violence, the No to Violence group, the Federation for Community Legal Centres and the CWA, as well as the many midwives I know. I also have my own lived experience. I know that if you are a woman experiencing family and domestic violence and you live in the country it’s really hard to access services without people finding out. You’re likely to know the receptionist at the doctor or the people at the baby health clinic. You are absolutely constrained by the number of services that are even available to you.

There is also the deeply disturbing research that shows that intimate partner violence in rural and urban areas share similar risks, but the outcomes are worse for rural women. It’s not a race to the bottom here, but there are rural themes, such as isolation, male bush culture and, tragically, access to guns that demonstrate that we need very specific solutions in regional Australia to combat family violence. I would add to that the research that’s demonstrated that, after times of national disaster emergencies such as bushfire and flood, the rates of family and domestic violence increase, and rural women are more exposed to those emergencies, tragically.

The other thing I want to say is that there is compelling research—long-known research now, and this is something I experienced when I was a midwife—showing that pregnant women are more likely to experience family and domestic violence at that period of their lives, for the first time or repeated, than at any other; that screening by midwives is critical; and that there is an intervention point there that we shouldn’t miss. We are missing it. When I think about the number of times that there are partners—men—at the antenatal visits with midwives, there’s an opportunity for interventions that I think we can do more about as well. Part of that is understanding coercive control. Part of that is understanding anxiety and depression in men.

Again, I would just say to the government and to all my colleagues—all of us who want to do something about this—that we need to be context specific. We need to think about early intervention points. We absolutely need to think about resources and the context in which we apply those resources. I thank the member for Warringah again for bringing this motion.

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