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Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone presents the Violence Prevention Awards

Media Release

24 November 1998

Speech by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Justice and Customs.

Introduction

Mr Chair, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to be invited to present the seventh Australian Violence Prevention Awards.

Crime and the fear of crime is an issue that affects every Australian person. Violent crime in particular touches us all.

Over the last six years these Awards have celebrated the achievements of the community groups across Australia who are reducing violence in their communities. Each year these awards demonstrate the commitment of all levels of government to the prevention and control of violence in Australia.

It is over 2 years since the Port Arthur tragedy. For many Australians that senseless act of violence serves as a reminder of the effects which violence can have upon a community and a nation.

The Commonwealth is committed to ensuring that all levels of Government work together to prevent crime, and in particular to help reduce violent crime.

The cost of crime and violence

Violent crime is extremely costly to the Australian community. Its direct costs alone, such as the costs of the police, courts and correctional facilities, have to be measured in the billions of dollars.

However the physical and emotional costs to the victims of violence in Australia are also important. Whilst such costs are nearly impossible to measure the long-term affects of violence such as emotional stress can destroy the lives of those directly affected and reduce the quality of life that we all enjoy.

Addressing crime through traditional methods is vital. We cannot afford to be soft on crime. However, we are increasingly recognising the value of prevention projects in addressing both the direct and indirect costs of violent crime.

Government strategies

The Australian Violence Prevention Awards commenced following the three horrific incidents of Queen and Hoddle streets and the Strathfield massacre almost a decade ago. The awards recognise that the Australian Institute of Criminology had a role to play in violence prevention at a national level.

This Government is also placing a focus on crime prevention through the Building Safer Communities programme, which will build on the National Campaign Against Violence and Crime. Additional funding of $13 million over three years will be provided for this programme. In recognition of the importance of early intervention work, the Government will also provide additional funding fo $8 million for a Youth Crime and Family Breakdown programme.

These programmes are an indication of our commitment to crime prevention. However, it has to be realised that violence cannot be addressed by any one sector of the government or community.

Since 1996, the Commonwealth Government's National Campaign Against Violence and Crime has addressed the issues of crime prevention by encouraging cooperation with state and territory governments. Police services throughout Australia have been collaborating with community agencies and achieved levels of success which law enforcement and community could not achieve alone. Other services involved include law enforcement, health, welfare, educational and community organisations.

Australian Violence Prevention Awards

The Australian Violence Prevention Awards have an important role to play in the Government's crime prevention strategy by encouraging the development of efficient and cost effective prevention projects. These awards are a joint Commonwealth, State and Territory initiative. The awards are designed to raise and maintain public awareness of the importance of preventing violence not just punishing it.

Previous winners of these awards have included projects addressing the issue of violence in locations such as schools, workplaces, families, local and rural communities.

Award winners have targeted violence against children, gay and lesbian communities, sex-workers, indigenous and migrant communities, domestic violence, alcohol and substance abuse, parenting techniques, family dispute resolution and bullying.

All these projects have shown examples of innovative activities which have demonstrated the ability to address violence effectively. In 1997 the overall national winner was the Positive Parenting Program from Queensland. This program aims to prevent serious behaviour problems in children by teaching parents alternatives to harsh, inconsistent and coercive discipline practices.

These type of programs show the commitment that exists in Australia to violence prevention.

Announcement of Award winners

And so, it is with great pleasure that I announce the winners of the Australian Violence Prevention Awards for 1998.

Three projects were selected as National Winners. Two programs both nominated by Australians Against Child Abuse were selected as the overall national winner and will share the major prize of $20,000. These programs are The Child Sexual Abuse Prevention and the Children's Sexual Behaviours Program from Victoria.

The Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program is a school-based program which aims to reduce both the incidence and impact of child sexual abuse by providing children, young people and adults with information and skills that will help prevent sexual abuse. This program involves a range of services relevant to child sexual abuse prevention, intervention and treatment.

I now call upon the representative of this program to come forward to receive their award.

Our second first place winner is the Children's Sexual Behaviour Program. The Children's Sexual Behaviour Program is a treatment and prevention model for children between the ages of 5 and 11 who display sexual behaviours which interfer with their normal development or are abusive towards other children or adults. Children are supported to change their behaviour and develop more respectful ways of interacting with others.

I now call upon the representative of this program to come forward to receive their award.

The third national winner receiving an award of $10,000 is And the Band Played On...And On. This South Australian program is designed to help school and local communities address problems with violence and improve the safety, learning and care of members through music. The program utilises music and the Arts as a tool for self improvement, group development, and fun.

I now call upon the representative of this program to receive their prize.

Conclusion

Other programs recognised for their contribution in the prevention of violence included four projects receiving awards of $5,000 and Certificates of Merit, which are the Geraldton Community Patrol in Western Australia, the Local Government Safety Action Team in Queensland, the Strengthening Attitudes Opposing Domestic Violence in Culturally Diverse Communities in New South Wales and the Northern Territory Government Aboriginal Law and Justice Strategy.

Fifteen projects also received an award of $2,000 and a Certificate of Merit each and seventeen school projects received $500 and a Certificate of Merit each.

All these projects are to be congratulated for their substantial contribution to the prevention of violence in Australia. The extraordinary efforts of these projects confirm the commitment of communities and governments to reducing and addressing the problem of violence for all Australians.

Thank you.

Mural Hall, Parliament House, Canberra

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