Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 August 2010) . . Page.. 3435 ..
functions that need to be performed. The role of the commissioner can set the direction for victim services in the ACT. For this reason we place great importance on legislation that creates the position. We highly value the services offered to the victims of crime. The level of support offered is a good measure of the strength and compassion of our society. Whether it be in the form of financial compensation, psychological counselling or something as seemingly simple as help filling out necessary forms, all support offered is valued and I think does make a difference to the victims of crime.
Despite the fact that crime is often reported and discussed in the media, it can often seem distant to the everyday person. However, for people unfortunate enough to experience crime first hand, the experience can be frightening, it can be disempowering and it can be damaging. The Greens recognise the vital importance of having a safety net in place that supports people who encounter crime. We want a system that stands ready and is on call to support those people unlucky enough to experience crime.
At this point I would like to acknowledge the highly valued work of the various non-government organisations who provide services in this area. I think they deserve to be mentioned in the context of the debate today. These groups include the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service and the Victims of Crime Assistance League. Each of these offers services that form part of the overall safety net we offer as a society. The mix of professional and volunteer supports is to be welcomed, as it widens and diversifies the safety net. That is an important thing in this context. In looking at the government role, I think it is really important that we stop and reflect on the role that the non-government providers play.
The Greens want the ACT safety net to be robust enough to begin to talk not of victims of crime but of survivors of crime. This is a shift in thinking and language that is beginning to filter through in various service providers around Australia. It represents a forward-looking approach where the person experiencing crime is supported to recover and move on with their life as a survivor.
One example of where this approach is being used is in child sexual abuse. Sufferers of abuse are beginning to identify as survivors of sexual abuse. This is an empowering way to identify that it allows the person to move on with their life, free from the weight of identifying as a victim. The Greens think this is a positive frame, and we hope the commissioner will follow this emerging thinking closely, with an eye to improving the safety net we offer in the ACT.
Turning to some of the detail of the amendments today, the Greens have analysed the bill through the perspective of how well it equips the commissioner to go about their job. Broadly speaking, the bill does better equip the commissioner. It clarifies and adds to the role, as I have commented earlier. One key example of the expanded role is the new responsibility for advocating for the interests of victims. While this may have been an assumed part of the role in the past, it has become unclear and disputed. What has become necessary is a clear articulation of who and what the role is. As a result of the amendments, the commissioner is now free to go out and go about this work as an advocate.