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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4236 ..

MR HARGREAVES: It was indeed, and I do not want the record to reflect any suggestion on my part that the Attorney-General has attempted to mislead the house. I just want to correct the chronology and put on the record that such is not the case any more. A lot of the concerns that led the standing committee to its conclusions came from discussions we had with VOCAL.

I acknowledge that it is a fairly recent thing, but one of the subjects around which a lot of the discussion revolved was closure. A lot of people gave evidence to the standing committee on closure. It is fairly well accepted that in a lot of cases giving people a lump sum is an attempt to effect closure, but it does not work. That came out pretty clearly in the committee's conclusions. However, that is not the case for every single victim. For some people, that is the only method of closure. The size of the award is immaterial. To do away with the award because it does not work is wrong. To address the size of it is right. There still has to be that symbolic gesture because society has let people down. I am firmly convinced that doing so will effect closure.

An award cannot be made in isolation. It has to be made in conjunction with other schemes. We need to address other non-physical issues associated with being a victim. I reject the claim that we need to severely trim this scheme back on the basis that lump sum payments do not effect closure.

I did a quick count of the cases included in the annual report on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act. The report made great bedtime reading, although it took me quite a while to read it. I would suggest that those who have not read it through to the end do so, because it reveals quite a number of interesting things. About 528 cases are mentioned in the report. The numbers I give are very rough because some of the categories were hard to pin down, as you can imagine. But 30.5 per cent of cases involved people who were injured in the course of their employment - police officers, bank tellers, sales people, petrol station attendants and people like that. I am encouraged that the Attorney-General has an amendment about workers compensation being exhausted before an application can be made for assistance under this legislation. I want to acknowledge that and say that I support it very sincerely.

I have not done a comparison on the cost per claim, but a goodly proportion of that 30 per cent ought to be satisfied by an insurance policy or a workers compensation policy. That is what such policies are for. If a builder falls off a building and gets injured, regardless of whether it is negligence, he gets fixed up under workers compensation insurance.

Another 6.4 per cent of cases were for indecent or sexual assault and another 8.7 per cent were for robbery or home invasion. That 8.7 per cent could rise as high as 9.5 per cent if some of the cases I define as miscellaneous were defined as robbery. Another 15 per cent of cases arose from anti-social behaviour in or near licensed premises. I did not split those up, but a lot of them arose from incidents inside licensed premises as a consequence of either the perpetrator or the applicant, or both, being intoxicated.

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