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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (30 November) . .

Page.. 5388..


Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (No 2)

Mr Ramsay, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.43): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I present the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill, the second of 2017, to the Assembly. This bill makes a number of substantive, positive changes to ACT criminal laws. In summary, the bill will implement a number of recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, allow circle sentencing to occur in the Children's Court, amend the offence of incitement, and provide that an offender cannot be concurrently subject to a good behaviour order and a parole order.

I will discuss firstly amendments recommended by the royal commission. The royal commission was established in 2013 to investigate institutions that have failed to protect children or respond to allegations of child sexual abuse. When the royal commission began, the prevalence of child sexual abuse in Australian institutions was largely underestimated. We now know that tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions. We will never know the true number. This is a national tragedy perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.

The sexual abuse of children has occurred in almost every type of institution: educational, recreational, sporting, religious, and cultural. In many cases those failings have been exacerbated by a manifestly inadequate response to the victim. The problems have been so widespread and the nature of the abuse so heinous that it is difficult to comprehend. The sexual abuse of a child is a terrible crime perpetrated against the most vulnerable in our community. It is a fundamental breach of the trust which children are entitled to place in adults.

Over the past five years the royal commission has held 57 public hearings, sat for 444 days and heard evidence from more than 1,300 witnesses. Commissioners have listened to the personal accounts of almost 8,000 survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions through private sessions. This work was combined with a comprehensive policy and research program.

On 14 August 2017, the royal commission published the final criminal justice report—the report—and made 85 recommendations aimed at reforming the Australian criminal justice system. The report consolidates the significant work of the royal


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