Page 3705 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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Standing orders—suspension

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra): I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as to allow the bringing forward of the item on the daily program in relation to report No 8 of the legal affairs committee entitled ACT fire and emergency services arrangements.

MR SPEAKER: It is the same question. I rule that out of order.

Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Bill 2008

Debate resumed from 7 August 2008, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (10.52): This bill seeks, inter alia, to address matters raised in 2005 by the Supreme Court in SI bhnf CC v KS bhnf—ACT Supreme Court, page 125—or I v S. It restructures the act and introduces some substantive changes, including addressing issues to do with incompatibility with the Human Rights Act raised in I v S in relation to the circumstances in which an interim order can become a final order. These issues relate mainly to the circumstances of the respondent to an order.

The bill also provides a mechanism in the Magistrates Court for reviews of final orders. It incorporates a substantial restructuring to improve its use and understanding, particularly relating to restraining orders under the Magistrates Court Act and protection orders under the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act. It extends the category of relationships within the act to include intimate heterosexual and homosexual relationships in which the parties do not reside together. And it eliminates children under the age of criminal responsibility—that is, 10 years—from being respondents to protection orders, preserving the ability of a child to apply for a domestic violence order in their own right and preserving the ability for a child to be named in an order where that child requires protection.

The bill provides the court with flexibility in relation to protection orders, allowing it to amend interim orders and to make short-term amendments to final orders in certain circumstances. It allows housing and community services to access information about orders when a child protection matter is involved; it expands the definition of domestic violence to include psychological abuse of a child or young person; and it allows a person to write a letter of support for a client to assist in organising their personal affairs where the client consents. It also facilitates a matter that has not been resolved at the conference stage of proceedings and is subsequently set down for hearing, and it adds trespass to the definition of domestic violence in the context of a domestic relationship.

The engine room of the bill is contained in clauses 36 and 93. They outline the process in relation to interim and final orders and provide fairness for both

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