Page 277 - Week 01 - Thursday, 27 February 2014

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Title read by Clerk.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing) (11.52): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present the Corrections and Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill 2014. The bill will make a number of changes to corrections and sentencing law.

The bill will create a new scheme to require people sentenced to imprisonment and parolees to obtain approval from the Director-General of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate before they can apply to change their name. The bill makes it an offence for people sentenced to imprisonment and parolees to apply to change their name in the ACT or another Australian jurisdiction before first obtaining the approval of the director-general. The maximum penalty for the offence is five penalty units. The amendment will improve the ability of law enforcement to prevent convicted offenders from changing their name to evade parole supervision, obtain new passports, facilitate the commission of offences or avoid detection.

A number of safeguards have been put in place to ensure that the scheme is compliant with human rights law. The scheme only applies to people who are convicted and sentenced to imprisonment, whether full time or by periodic detention, including those who are released on parole or on licence. It does not affect people who are convicted and given a less serious sentence such as a non-conviction order, good behaviour order or financial penalty.

The scheme does not necessarily prevent people serving a sentence of imprisonment and parolees from changing their name. It does require that they seek approval for such a change.

The grounds on which the director-general decides whether to allow the person to apply to change their name are set out in the bill. The change of name must be necessary or reasonable and must not be reasonably likely to be a threat to prison security; to jeopardise a person’s health or safety; to be used to further an unlawful activity or purpose; to be used to evade or hinder the supervision of the person; or to be regarded as offensive by a victim of crime or an appreciable sector of the community. The person can appeal to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal if their application is refused by the director-general.

Introduction of the scheme gives effect to a Standing Council on Law and Justice agreement to consider implementing a best practice approach to the change of name process to minimise abuse of the system. Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales introduced similar change of name schemes in 2004, 2006 and 2012 respectively.

The bill makes a number of other amendments which were brought to my attention by Legal Aid ACT in the context of consultation for the mental health act review and the

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