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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 February 2018) . . Page.. 386 ..

I support the amending of section 56 of the Crimes Act in relation to establishing that an unlawful sexual relationship took place rather than specific individual acts. This is because, as I have already mentioned, it often takes many years to report such crimes, and a person who was a child at the time the offences occurred cannot be reasonably expected to remember every specific incident on every specific day. They no doubt will have experienced repeated abuse, and it is almost impossible for them to be able to prove that on a certain day a certain act took place. All of these acts will have merged into a pattern of behaviour and abuse that in many cases went on for years. What needs to be proved is that at least two or more sexual acts took place and that these acts establish that a sexual relationship with a minor occurred. This is a fair and just amendment and one that is recommended in the report from the royal commission.

I also support the amendment to section 66 of the Crimes Act to create two new grooming offences to criminalise the non-electronic grooming of someone. As we all know, grooming can occur in a variety of contexts, including non-electronically. We also know that grooming can occur not only with a child but also with an adult person of influence in a child’s life, such as a parent, and it can occur in relation to a vulnerable adult such as a person with intellectual or cognitive disability. This amendment ensures that grooming in all of its presentations can be considered by the court.

Equally, I support the amendment that prevents a good behaviour order from being imposed while an offender is on parole or in prison. This makes sense in that orders must be enforceable and not inconsistent with other conditions imposed on an offender through parole or sentencing. It is difficult to enforce two different sets of conditions which, if breached, are dealt with in two different contexts.

I am particularly pleased to support the amendment to section 34 which excludes good character as a mitigating factor where that good character enabled the offending. This is a very significant amendment. Historically, it was all too common for people to remain unconvicted on the grounds that they were a respected teacher, a priest, an admired scout leader or a person in a position of societal power, and that, because of their standing, it was inconceivable that they had sexually offended. But we know all too well that some people in positions of power over children deliberately use that position to gain access to children and deliberately use their position in society to offend and to get away with it. This amendment will ensure that this will no longer be the case.

Importantly, this amendment bill also deals with incitement, and establishes that a person can be found guilty of incitement of another person to commit a crime, whether or not the crime actually took place. The case in point in the Queen v Holliday highlights how the current system relied on the criminal activity to take place before charges of incitement to commit a crime could be laid. This amendment ensures that someone who encourages or asks another person to commit a crime is culpable due to the very nature of the request.

I support the amendment to enable the declaration of more than one children’s magistrate, as this will ensure that the necessary specialist skills to deal with children’s matters exist through more than one person.

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