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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1921 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

a compensation payment that is out of kilter with the impact of that burning of the mat on the person is a bit of a simplistic way of raising the concerns that the Government has. It is a bit offensive to a lot of people who are familiar with the impact of harassment and sexual and physical assault. The pain and suffering that can result from that can be extremely intense. It can be so intense that, no matter how much counselling you have, it is quite possible that you may not have a productive life.

Mr Humphries attended the closure of the conference on advocates for survivors of child abuse and said that he was supportive of these issues. If he becomes more familiar with some of the stories that come out through that group he will realise that there are some situations where money is probably all that is going to be really useful in terms of supporting those people to deal with their life situation because it can be so incredibly disabling.

I am also interested in the issue of dispute resolution. I have raised this before as well. The Government has allocated a very small amount of money to cover training for this new dispute resolution process. When people have a dispute and seek resolution via mediation, they will call the service and their dispute will be screened by someone in an intake office and that person will determine, importantly, whether the dispute is able to be mediated. Disputes in which there is any form of violence or a power imbalance between parties should never be mediated. A lot of expertise is needed in this area of work. We are not convinced that a band of community recruits or JPs are going to have that expertise. I am also concerned because currently there is a free service in Canberra that could be further utilised, supported and developed, if that is what the Government thinks should happen. That is a conflict resolution service and it has trained mediators who are selected very carefully and who hold accreditation. It also has an officer that can assess a dispute and provide advice on the most appropriate course of action.

I urge the Government to take seriously into consideration what they are doing here and to consult the experts before they progress this any further. It is difficult to understand why the Government had to reinvent the wheel in this way. A successful service could reduce cost to the ACT community in areas such as courts and policing. For the sake of effective use of taxpayers' money and to ensure a professional service to the community, I repeat: I urge the Government to seriously consider what they are suggesting here and look more carefully at how well this service will work under the current proposal and current funding.

The insurance levy comes up in this appropriation as a source of funding. We have already had a lengthy debate on that in this place. It is clear that quite a number of people in here are very unhappy with it and believe it is inequitable. Mrs Carnell asked me to withdraw something that I said in that debate - and Mr Humphries too. I did say there was a New South Wales report which pointed out the inequity in that form of levy or taxation. There is such a report. Obviously the dates are different. I asked Mr Humphries for clarification on the report he was referring to. It is a more recent report which I have not seen, so obviously I cannot comment on that. There certainly has been a report in New South Wales that did point out the inequity of the particular proposal, but I am interested to look at the more recent one as well.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

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