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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 February 2018) . . Page.. 385 ..

Given the way that this has been crafted, the problems raised by the Bar Association and the remaining concerns that I have with regard to grooming, we will support this in the in-principle stage but I will then move that that debate be adjourned, because let us have the time to address these issues. Let us make sure that the grooming issue is actually applied as the royal commission says it should be. Grooming is the offence. That is what we are trying to target here. Let us take the time to get this right. I am not sure what the rush is. Let us agree to it in principle, because we all support the intent, and then we can have that deliberation rather than try to deal with amendments that I got at midday yesterday, which does not give us time to deal with the remaining concerns of the profession.

Despite the concerns that I have, I would like to thank the government for the cooperative way that we have worked on this. I would have liked to see those amendments earlier, to be frank. I would like to thank the Law Society and particularly Mr Ken Archer at the bar for his good work here, and also PCO. I have been trying to work out amendments, not knowing what the government’s amendments were, and certainly they have been very flexible. I have not moved them and I will not be moving them in the end, but certainly Bianca Kimber from PCO was very responsive, and I thank her. I will speak further in the detail stage to the concerns that we have.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (12.14): I rise today to speak in support of this amendment bill. The bill introduces a number of legislative reforms recommended in the report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which will contribute to increased protections for children in these environments and beyond. I am pleased to see that the ACT is at the forefront of introducing these reforms.

While the royal commission focused on child sexual abuse occurring in institutional settings, we all know that the extent of abuse revealed during its inquiries is the tip of the iceberg. It has long been known that the vast majority of people who sexually abuse children are known to the victim and their family, and these reforms will hopefully extend to enabling children who have been abused in familial and other settings outside institutions to also get access to justice.

We also know that people who engage in sexual abuse of children do not do so as an isolated incident; they are repeat offenders. They deliberately and repeatedly seek to be in situations where they have access to children, and they repeatedly engage in grooming of the child or their family in order to eventually sexually abuse the child.

These reforms therefore require a more sophisticated analysis of the crime of child sexual abuse and a better understanding of the dynamics which lead to the crime. These reforms will lead to a greater understanding of the nature of the crime and assist to remove the stigma that is all too often associated with it. They will enable victim survivors who have kept silent for years to have faith that the justice system will provide appropriate redress and that the system will no longer regard delayed disclosure as being aberrant; rather, that delayed disclosure is regarded as typical and understandable.

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