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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4234 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Of course, this is not the whole picture. Many of the costs imposed on this scheme should be borne elsewhere. Thirty per cent of the artificially inflated figure of $6.6m relates to crime inflicted on people at work. Well may we ask what workers compensation is for if police officers and bank tellers have to resort to the victims of crime scheme. Surely one of the duties of a police force is, where possible, to protect its officers from, and to compensate them for, the consequences of violent crime. Surely the banks, at the very least, can afford to pay a workers compensation premium which will cover their work force for the physical and psychological impact of armed hold-ups.

Costs also reflect our growing understanding of the psychological damage that violent crime can inflict on victims. There is no earthly reason that workers compensation businesses should offload that responsibility on a scheme devised to assist victims without recourse to other support. As members will be aware, workers compensation in the ACT is on the table in this Assembly. We are presented with a rare and very real opportunity to look at the impact of violent crime and to determine a more equitable outcome for its victims. It is not good enough, even and only in light of cost containment, to dodge the issue of workers compensation and lay the burden back on victims. I urge the Government to pick up the recommendation of the committee's report to introduce psychological injury into the lexicon of the ACT workers compensation provisions.

It is important to make the point that some of the cost cutting achieved through this Bill is not at issue today. Assistance in this Bill is targeted at victims of violent crime only. Entitlements have been tightened considerably for people who were intoxicated at the time of the incident or who were engaged in criminal activity. Other than in the case of death, secondary victims have no entitlements at all. Payments are set off against Medicare, contract insurance and social security entitlements. I do not necessarily support these conditions, but the amendments I am moving simply attempt to ameliorate some of the more damaging aspects of the Bill. I remind the Assembly that I will always look to work cooperatively with other members, and I would have greatly preferred to adjourn debate on this Bill, as I have already said, so that we could work together to arrive at a better outcome.

The 1998 victim support working party and this year's standing committee made many valuable contributions to the debate. I will draw on some of that material when I move to my amendments. In brief, the working party report offered a valuable overview of interstate and international services. It drew together considerable research on the felt and perceived needs of victims of crime, many of which fall outside the reach of this legislation, although they do fall within the ambit of the Attorney-General. It called for the establishment of a more holistic approach to victim support.

It may well be that the Minister has introduced or plans to introduce a number of initiatives to address such needs, including the provision of additional victims liaison officers and court liaison officers; the establishment of a witness assistant within the office of the DPP and the establishment of a child witness service; enhanced reparation, mediation and crime prevention strategies; other procedures to encourage timely and sensitive support for victims of crime as well as accurate and timely information on legal and criminal processes; minimisation of red tape and application procedures for clients; and access to a range of approved suppliers to provide counselling and other

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