Yesterday, more than 300 people turned out for the Safer Families, Better Communities walk on the Cairns Esplanade. It was a very public statement that Cairns has zero tolerance for domestic and family violence.
I commend the tireless efforts of Amanda Lee-Ross, head of the Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service, who is doing fantastic work in our region. As Amanda said, we must work together as a community to be effective on this issue. It is about reporting violence when we know it is happening-not just waiting for the victim to do it.
We also need to make sure that front-line services are properly resourced so that they can deal with the influx of people needing assistance. Amanda said that in the last 12 months they have had a 13 per cent jump in people coming to their office and a 26 per cent jump in referrals from police.
Worryingly, today's Cairns Post reports that every bed for victims of domestic violence was full, in Cairns, on Friday night.
I am very pleased with the government's $100 million support package, although I recognise it will take a little time for the benefits to flow through to front-line services.
Every woman and child in Australia has the right to feel safe and to live without fear, and I congratulate the Cairns community for taking a stand.
It is important that when we make statements in relation to family and domestic violence they are on zero tolerance. It is an absolute plague on our community.