Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 17 March 2005) . . Page.. 1158 ..
sections of the community and some of those sections of the community are likely to see any legislation as a threat to their interests.
Mr Stefaniak referred to the report of the scrutiny of bills committee One of the real difficulties with taking a human rights approach to anything is that there are competing rights and the interaction between human rights is complex, especially when it comes to the impact of the law on women. We have to remember that when the earlier codes of human rights were devised it was assumed that the citizen was a he and that a whole new convention for the elimination of discrimination against women had to be written in order to have women included in references to human rights.
I just wanted to add those little nuances there. I will be supporting this bill and, like the opposition, I will be watching it in operation, but perhaps I will be looking at different things.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (12.13), in reply: Mr Speaker, this bill is concerned with the safety and protection of people who experience domestic and personal violence. The bill recognises that domestic violence can take the form of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, psychological, economic and social types of abuse and requires a higher level of protective response.
This recognition of a wider range of harm associated with domestic violence is consistent with the definition in the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which includes psychological violence. In supporting this principle, the bill extends the definition of domestic violence to include threats to, or acts against, pets and animals, burglary and destroying and damaging property. It recognises that a person’s behaviour will be domestic violence if it causes personal injury, not just physical injury, to someone.
The bill recognises that domestic violence offences are serious interpersonal offences that transcend cultures and communities. The definition of “relevant person” as a person who can apply for a domestic violence order has been expanded to include relationships with similar dynamics to domestic relationships. The definition of “relative” as a person who can apply for a domestic violence order has been expanded to take into account the kinship and cultural ties of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders, members of communities with non-English speaking backgrounds and people with particular religious beliefs. These definitions reflect the importance given to the protection of the family under section 11 of the territory’s Human Rights Act 2004 and the broad meaning given to “family” under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Standing Committee on Legal Affairs, in report 56 of the scrutiny of bills committee, has raised for the Assembly the question whether this bill unduly trespasses on rights and liberties. The committee makes the point that, in the case of domestic violence law, rights such as the right of a person to be free from arbitrary interference with his or her family are in conflict with one another. Domestic violence law, by its very nature, will inevitably clash with the civil liberties of an individual.
However, in including a series of proposals designed to ensure the safety and protection of people from violence, harassment and intimidation, the legislation contains safeguards