Legislative Council: Tuesday, August 29, 2023


Port Pirie Domestic Violence Action Group

The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS (14:50): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the minister inform the council about the Port Pirie Domestic Violence Action Group's 30th birthday commemoration that he attended?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:50): I thank the honourable member for her question and her dedication over a long period of time to promoting the safety of women and families. Over the winter break, I had the very great privilege of joining the Port Pirie Domestic Violence Action Group on the land of the Nukunu people to commemorate 30 years since the group was first formed.

While in many ways a sobering event reminding us of the continued existence of domestic and family violence in our community, it was a very special occasion to have so many passionate and committed long-term activists in the room and notably a significant proportion of men, which I think is incredibly important in the conversation to eliminate domestic violence.

Attendees included the Mayor of Port Pirie Regional Council, Mr Leon Stephens; Mr Peter Ackland, CEO of the Port Pirie Regional Council; Superintendent Mark Syrus, officer in charge at the Yorke and Mid North Local Service Area; Victim Support Service's General Manager, Sarah Scammell; and Trish Rollins, former chairperson of the Port Pirie Domestic Violence Action Group and Program Manager for Homelessness at Uniting Country SA. However, I particularly want to thank event organiser and chairperson of the action group, Jenny Lewis, and to all of the RSL volunteers in the kitchen who also put on a most delicious morning tea, including one or three sausage rolls.

To start the morning, it was wonderful to hear from Jenny, as the action group's chairperson, about the work the group has undertaken over the past 30 years. Jenny and her husband have travelled down from Port Pirie today to join us as we talk about the important work they have undertaken, together with VSS's Sarah Scammell.

The Port Pirie Domestic Violence Action Group is best described as a committee made up of both professionals in the field and passionate community members dedicated to raising greater awareness about the impact of domestic violence and working towards the ultimate elimination of all family, domestic and gender-based violence.

The Port Pirie Domestic Violence Action Group is one of the oldest domestic violence committees in South Australia. Back in the early 1990s, community consultation occurred with the then Port Pirie city council regarding the establishment and funding of a local crime prevention program through the then Attorney-General's crime prevention unit.

A social worker from the Department for Child Protection (formerly Families SA) participated in the consultation and ensured that domestic violence was on the agenda and recognised as a prevalent crime in the region that needed a collaborative community effort. Since that formation, the group has held many events to raise public awareness about domestic violence, including the hosting of themed mock trials during Law Week where students from the local high school took on roles for the trials, listening to evidence before giving their verdict.

In 2005, national advocacy group YWCA (formerly the Young Women's Christian Organisation) organised for the Seventy7 Pairs of Shoes exhibition to tour Australia, where at the time the number 77 signified the number of intimate partner homicides in Australia each year. The exhibit displayed prominent Australians who had donated their shoes to promote awareness about domestic violence and to formally pledge to take a stand against it. The Port Pirie Domestic Violence Action Group ensured that the travelling exhibition came to Port Pirie at the Northern Festival Centre to generate a broader community conversation about domestic violence.

For White Ribbon Day, the Port Pirie Domestic Violence Action Group have held marches with sausage sizzles and local bands, supported by police and Army cadets, and many football matches, morning teas and breakfasts for the local community. The action group has also facilitated a number of remembrance day events to remember women and children who have lost their lives to domestic violence.

These community awareness events organised by the action group have attracted some very impressive special guests over the years, including domestic violence victim survivor Glyn Scott whose momentous case in the High Court tested the then contentious question of the illegality of historic rape in marriage.

At the event during the winter break, after the speeches concluded, all attendees at the event headed outside to the RSL Club's Women's Memorial Garden to join in the planting of peace roses. The new rose was to symbolise everlasting peace, joining the other three roses in the garden, one being to remember women, another one being to remember children, and the third rose from the committee to represent the optimism and hope the group have in eliminating domestic violence.

I would like to take the opportunity to once again thank all the dedicated professionals and community members in the Port Pirie Domestic Violence Action Group, who work tirelessly to raise awareness about the detrimental impact that domestic violence has on individuals and the community, which is often especially pronounced in isolated regional areas. The work of groups such as the action group in Port Pirie is invaluable in providing a safe and supportive community for those experiencing domestic violence, because when we talk about these difficult topics it helps to break down stigmas and misconceptions that contribute to the cycle of abuse.

While in Port Pirie I was also very pleased to be able to visit my good friend and colleague the Hon. Geoff Brock, who met with representatives from the action group just today in parliament. I finish by paying tribute to everyone who has been involved, over the whole of the 30 years, in the Port Pirie Domestic Violence Action Group. I look forward to visiting Port Pirie in the near future and looking at the great work that they do in their community.