Page 583 - Week 02 - Thursday, 6 March 2008

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non-lawyer as a convenor only if the chief executive is satisfied that the non-lawyer has received sufficient legal training to advise those who take part in restorative justice of their rights and duties at law and under the act.

The requirement that a person must have sufficient legal training before appointment as a convenor, as distinct from assignment to facilitate a specific restorative justice conference, precludes appointment of otherwise suitable people who may not have had legal training but do have relevant experience and are willing and capable of undertaking legal training, as required. These amendments create opportunities for capable people with relevant experience to undertake the required legal training after being appointed as a convenor, but before being assigned to convene a restorative justice conference. These amendments make no changes to the current standards of training and expertise required of staff working in the convenor role.

The bill also amends the Crimes (Restorative Justice) Act 2004 to allow all ACT police officers to refer matters, where appropriate, to restorative justice, removing the need for the Chief Police Officer to personally refer every matter from the Australian Federal Police.

The bill amends the Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005 to include a definitional section, which was a transitional provision in the Crimes (Sentencing) Regulation 2006, which has now expired.

The bill amends the Human Rights Commission Act 2005 to update the legislation to better reflect the operational requirements of the commission, and to clarify areas of uncertainty. For example, the objects of the act have been restructured to emphasise that the main object of the act is to promote the human rights and welfare of people living in the ACT and that this is achieved by the establishment of the Human Rights Commission. The bill also amends the act to allow the commissioners to delegate their functions to other commissioners for expediency.

To avoid confusion, the bill amends the act to explicitly mention “services” as well as “acts”, given that many other provisions in the act mention these terms. The bill also amends the act to improve the notification provisions by the commission in cases where the commission is satisfied that the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or not made honestly, or where the complaint lacks substance. The act currently requires the commission to notify persons complained about before the complaint could be considered. This means that persons complained about have to be notified even of vexatious and unfounded complaints.

The bill amends the act to assist the commission to maintain statistics on the resolution of complaints. It also amends section 78 (2) (e) to replace the word “considered” with the words “dealt with”, as this wording is a more accurate reflection of the circumstances in which the commission deals with complaints. The bill amends the act to clarify the procedure surrounding the closure of discrimination complaints and to prevent the duplication of discrimination referral statements being issued. The bill also amends the act to include a referral power for the commission to refer complaints to other more appropriate statutory office holders. This power is based on the referral power in the ACT Ombudsman Act 1989.

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