Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 March 2018) . . Page.. 801 ..
changes recognised that to have an accessible justice system our legislation needed to account for what we know about the length of time that it takes, on average, for survivors to report abuse.
Ensuring that our justice system and our support services are ready to help survivors who come forward is absolutely critical. And that is why this government has been vocal and active in joining the commonwealth, the states and the Northern Territory to create a national redress scheme. As has been noted, the Chief Minister and I announced on Monday this week the government’s decision to join that scheme. I have been working with my counterparts across Australia over the past year to deliver a scheme that lives up to the recommendations of the royal commission, and I will continue to do so as the scheme is implemented. As I did earlier this week, I encourage all institutions across Australia, not just the non-government institutions, to opt in, to sign up to that scheme as well.
Access to justice and providing redress are just two examples of how we are improving the way that we support survivors. In the 2017-18 budget review the government provided funding of $293,000 to support ongoing work within government, including $120,000 to support the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre. The funding to the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre is absolutely critical because we know that, as this work progresses and as more people are informed and encouraged, there will be more survivors who come forward.
Providing access to compensation through the courts and redress through a national scheme are important ways of supporting survivors, but it is also important to think about how we hold institutions and individuals accountable for their actions. The royal commission has delivered a strong evidence base for reforming our criminal laws to respond to abuse, and this government is already taking action.
In the last sitting period, as has been outlined, this Assembly passed amendments that bring the ACT’s criminal laws that cover ongoing abuse and grooming offences into line with the royal commission’s recommendations. These amendments ensure that survivor testimony about repeated abuse can be used to prove the very serious charge of maintaining a sexual relationship with a child. They also ensure that grooming behaviour is broadly captured and includes grooming of adults to gain access to children.
More law reform work, more consultation across portfolios and more engagement with the community are already underway. The government will be opening up the royal commission’s report to community consultation, and we will be listening to ways to implement those recommendations. And the ACT will keep working hard to ensure that the court process stays oriented around supporting survivors and securing a just outcome for them.
The royal commission’s recommendations cross private institutions, government services, the criminal law and the courts. They are comprehensive, and this government is committed to a whole-of-government, comprehensive plan of action. This government’s response recognises that efforts to protect children cannot be focused on any single aspect of change. Improving awareness of abuse means our