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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 5 Hansard (7 April) . . Page.. 1507..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

participate in a rehabilitation program. The court will have the discretion to impose any particular conditions it wishes in a good behaviour order. Using one type of order as a vehicle for a spectrum of conditions will simplify the procedures for making orders, varying orders and addressing breaches.

The bill includes two new, important preventive tools for the courts: non-association orders and place restriction orders. A non-association order is an order prohibiting an offender from associating with a specified person for a specified time. A place restriction order is an order prohibiting an offender from frequenting or visiting a specified place or district for a specified time. These orders can be made if a court is dealing with an offence that involves harm against a person and the court believes an order will prevent further offences or harassment. These orders will be available to the court if the offender is subject to periodic detention or a good behaviour order.

I believe these orders will improve the safety of victims, particularly victims of domestic violence and personal violence. Since 1977 courts around the country have been familiar with the power to make Griffiths remands, following the High Court's decision in Griffiths v the Queen. Griffiths remands enable the court to adjourn proceedings to provide an offender with an opportunity to address their criminal behaviour before sentencing. The bill codifies this power available to the court and gives it the title of deferred sentence orders. Deferred sentence orders will enable the court to adjourn proceedings to provide an offender with an opportunity to address their criminal behaviour before sentencing. In this way the court can assess whether the offender demonstrates prospects for rehabilitation or an ability to address their criminal behaviour.

I said earlier that it is the duty of the court to consider the circumstances of the offence and the offender when passing sentence. To improve this process in the ACT, the bill increases the scope of presentence reports and enables the court to select the topics of assessment, as needed. For example, if the court is considering imposing community service upon an offender combined with periodic detention, it need only ask for those matters to be assessed.

Finally, the bill expands the availability of victim impact statements. Presently, victim impact statements can only be tendered if the offence in question holds a penalty of at least five years jail. We have lowered the threshold to enable victim impact statements to be tendered for any offence punishable by imprisonment for longer than one year and for the summary offence of common assault. Many concerns about the possibility of the courts being flooded with victim impact statements have not come true. If anything, victims often need to be encouraged to consider making a victim impact statement. So lowering the threshold will not clog up the system, but send the message that the government wishes more victims to express their experience.

Rather than narrowing the category of people who can tender victim impact statements, the bill broadens the class of people who can tender a statement. Victims, parents, close family members of victims, people who are carers of victims and people who are in an intimate relationship with a victim, such as a life partner, lover, boyfriend or girlfriend, will be entitled to make a victim impact statement.


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