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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4235 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

support services. I ask the Attorney-General to advise the Assembly of such initiatives as he has implemented or plans to implement to this effect and such other cost-cutting or revenue-raising measures he has taken or plans to take in the area of victims of crime support.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety reported on an inquiry into this Bill and tabled that report in June. The committee was chaired by Paul Osborne and included Harold Hird, Trevor Kaine and John Hargreaves. These men made 24 very clear recommendations designed to ameliorate some of the more disturbing implications of the legislation. In presenting the report to the house, the committee chair commented:

... all members of the committee attempted to come to what we thought was a fair compromise in relation to this report.

I commend them for their work and regret that debate on the matter was adjourned and that we are debating this legislation before the chair could speak to his report. Key recommendations of the committee were that all references to "permanent" be removed from the special assistance provision in the Bill; that the Government consult directly with relevant community organisations to devise mutually acceptable wording to provide financial assistance for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and that such victims not be disadvantaged by the introduction of this legislation; that involvement in the victims services scheme be voluntary; that victims of sexual assault and domestic violence not be required to report to police; that the retrospective provisions of the Bill be removed; and that the Government amend workers compensation legislation to incorporate psychological injury. While some of these recommendations fall short of legislation I would unequivocally support, the Bill before us falls way short of even that.

The Assembly's committee system is crucial to the public's interaction with government business and the Assembly. I am disappointed that the Government's response to the report failed to take up so many of the recommendations. I am also concerned that the chair and other members of the committee are not taking the opportunity to move amendments that put their recommendations into effect. I note that the Labor Party is proposing amendments to the definition of "extremely serious injury" and to establish the VSS through legislation rather than regulation. I support that. I will be moving further amendments in order to achieve at least some of the outcomes recommended in Mr Osborne's report, and I hope to receive support from Mr Osborne and his committee members.

MR HARGREAVES (12.29 am): Before addressing the issue specifically, I wish to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of members of the Victims of Crime Assistance League, who have been here all night and listened to all the speeches. I congratulate them on their forbearance and thank them for being here. When the Minister put the Bill forward and made his presentation speech, he said - and it was true at the time - that VOCAL's representative on the working party supported the views of the working party. It needs to be put on the record that that is no longer the case.

Mr Humphries: That is true but it was the case at one stage.

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