Page 2253 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2022
MR CAIN (Ginninderra) (11.53): The Canberra Liberals agree with most of the changes proposed in this bill. They deal primarily with extending sensible and much needed updates to family violence legislation in the ACT that hope to improve access to justice and minimise trauma for victims involved in court proceedings and ensure that domestic and family violence offenders are held to account.
The Canberra Liberals believe that the first objective for improved access to justice and reducing trauma for victims when involved in court proceedings may well be advanced by the changes proposed. Our concerns lie in the Labor-Greens government’s attempts to achieve their second objective, to ensure that domestic and family violence offenders are held to account.
In the development of the bill, the Canberra Liberals have also been concerned by the following: the quality of consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and other culturally diverse communities in the ACT, especially where family preservation and restoration are particularly significant priorities.
In my opinion, there is a lack of evidence-based research showing the effectiveness of an aggravated offence scheme for the prevention or reduction of domestic violence crimes. The objectives of the bill do not include prioritising the prevention or reduction of family violence-related crimes, which is an integral form of resolution to this difficult problem; and there is a severe lack of education or rehabilitation support in prisons, restorative justice practices and community corrections orders. In fact, this was raised by ACTCOSS as a concern in relation to the effectiveness of the bill’s implementation. The Canberra Liberals also fear that this lack of support would have a detrimental impact on offenders with longer sentences.
Finally, there also appears to be a lack of rigour around testing, metrics and reviews that are being proposed around the review time frame, and the review requirement for the Attorney-General to provide an update to the Assembly on the impact of the legislation.
I would like to also echo some thoughts passed on to me by the Shadow Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Mrs Kikkert. Though she does support the intentions of the bill—that is, to ensure that domestic and family violence offenders are held to account, and to improve access to justice and minimise trauma for victims involved in court proceedings—Mrs Kikkert has stated that we need more than the legislative reform provided for in this bill; we need support and services that will promote successful rehabilitation and reduce recidivism. Mrs Kikkert has received expressions of concern from various community organisations about the effect of increasing maximum penalties when there are limited rehabilitation programs at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. As Shadow Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, she acknowledges the over-representation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the justice system.
While I do support the policy embedded in this bill, as members are aware, some amendments have been circulated in my name to address, in part, the recommendation passed on to the government by the justice and community safety inquiry.