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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 August 2010) . . Page.. 3436 ..

In conclusion, the bill puts the statutory victim’s position on a firmer legislative footing. The Greens support these changes because they make good sense and confirm the important role of the commissioner in working with victims. However, the Greens do not support the amendments simply for the sake of good structure. We believe there are significant policy and resource questions that lie ahead for victim services in the ACT. These will be best addressed by a sector that has a strong and reliable commissioner who is able to advocate in the interests of victims. The commissioner will play an important role in helping to resolve these questions.

Three key examples of these questions are the quantum of financial compensation provided to victims, the appropriate role of victims in the court process, and a charter of victim rights in the ACT. These are important questions that go right to the measure of how our society cares for victims and how we protect their rights in the court process. I do not want to foreshadow today how the Greens may respond to these issues, because I think they are topics that will involve a lot of discussion and they will involve a lot more consultation. But we do believe they are important issues worthy of public debate in the future. They are complex questions that require leadership and direction, and the bill today gives the commissioner the statutory role of advocating for the interests of victims. I wish the commissioner well in their important work, particularly in taking up some of these advocacy questions but also in the broader range of responsibilities that they have.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.27): I thank members for their contributions to the debate on the bill this afternoon. As members have said, these amendments build on the government’s previous demonstrated commitment to victims of crime in the ACT. The ACT was one of the first jurisdictions in Australia to put in place law reform recognising victims, but it has since been overtaken by reforms in other Australian and overseas jurisdictions.

It is therefore important that the ACT continues to strive for best practice in the support of victims of crime. The amendments that are being debated today represent an important improvement in this regard. The reforms contained in the bill are an important piece of law reform and they recognise the important place that victims of crime have within the fabric of the justice system. I note Mrs Dunne’s somewhat demeaning comments in relation to the significance of this bill. Her comments fail to understand the significant debate that has occurred amongst those involved in providing support to victims of crime and why they want to see these reforms take place.

When commencing a review of a piece of legislation such as this it is important to seek the advice and expertise of the people involved on a regular basis with victims of crime. Therefore, the reforms have been overseen by a reference group comprising representatives from a range of criminal justice agencies and have required extensive consultation. All that guidance and consultation has been beneficial in forming the reforms debated here today.

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