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Authorised by Jay Suvaal, Country Labor Party, 9/377 Sussex Street, Sydney NSW 2000

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REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL 2019 - Consideration in detail

August 8, 2019

I speak against the amendment. As former shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, I read the case of the only woman in recent memory—in 2017—to have been convicted under the Crimes Act.

 

From my experience of listening to women who have been exposed and experienced domestic and family violence, that case screamed to me that that is what it was. It was not enough to prevent her from being charged.

 

I agree with the member for Newtown that screening for domestic and family violence is available for pregnant women, but it does not always pick it up.

 

We know that perpetrators of domestic and family violence are often very well practised in covering their behaviour. One of the things that covers that behaviour is the appearance to the outside world that they are a supportive, loving partner.

 

What would a supportive and loving partner do when a woman is having a termination? He would turn up at the doctor's with her.

 

We know from that case that the partner wanted her to have an abortion, did not want her to have an abortion, wanted her to have an abortion—to the extent that after service was refused she accessed pills from the internet, which resulted in a terrible outcome.

 

This is very, very dangerous. Counselling should not be a barrier, nor should it be used to support those perpetrators in their attempts to get the rest of the world on their side by claiming that a woman is not standing on her own—no-one will believe that they are a perpetrator.

 

It is really important, especially if this amendment is read in conjunction with the member for Mulgoa's proposed amendment No. 8 on sheet c2019-042. She said—and I hope I am not misquoting the member—that a reason for putting in a referral to Family and Community Services of a risk of serious harm is that a perpetrator of sexual assault or sexual violence against a young person under the age of consent would turn up with them to an appointment.

 

Here we have a situation where it is very likely, and there is a very reasonable assumption, that an abusive partner will turn up at the doctor's.

 

The scenario would go like this: The doctor would say, "I think you should both go to counselling."

 

In the car on the way home the perpetrator would then say, "See, they think what I'm doing is right. They think what's happening is right and they want you and me to do the right thing."

 

This insidious emotional violence will be facilitated by this amendment. I urge members not to support it.

 

As a final example of how insidious this type of emotional abuse is, I heard members in the Chamber yesterday—and it made me so angry—speaking about that case as the partner "urging her to have an abortion".

 

They did not refer to it as her being subjected to reproductive coercion. They did not refer to it as domestic violence.

 

If my learned colleagues in this place do not understand that distinction then I think we need to be very clear about not facilitating victims' perpetrators being offered counselling.

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