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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2016) . . Page.. 39 ..


As I mentioned in my comments during the in-principle stage, there has been ongoing consultation following the introduction of this bill with commission staff, community advocacy groups, the legal profession and members of the public about matters of detail in relation to the bill.

Following its introduction, that consultation has resulted in the identification of the implications of vesting the victims of crime complaints handling function in the Disability and Community Services Commissioner regarding the way the Victims of Crime Commissioner advocates for victims.

The victims of crime concerns and complaints that are handled by the Victims of Crime Commissioner are done so through advocacy rather than through a formal investigation process. A more formal process may slow down the process and limit the range of options available to the commissioner to assist victims who may often require urgent assistance. This also has the potential to change the range of methods that the Victims of Crime Commissioner can use to promote and protect the rights of victims, including advocating for compliance with the governing principles for administration of justice agencies under the Victims of Crime Act 1994. Therefore, in consultation with the Victims of Crime Commissioner, the government has decided to postpone a move to vest formal victims of crime complaints in the Disability and Community Services Commissioner on the basis that this would have been consistent with the other complaint provisions under the Human Rights Act.

Similar issues arise with the Disability and Community Services Commissioner having the function of handling complaints about matters in relation to which the Public Advocate has a function. Although this function exists in the Public Advocate Act, discussions with the Public Advocate and commissioners highlighted that the current process is less formal than the process under the Human Rights Commission Act and indicated that it generally occurs through advocacy. Therefore these amendments omit or oppose clauses from the bill that would have vested these new complaints functions in the Disability and Community Services Commissioner. I commend the amendments to the Assembly.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (12.11): We will not be opposing the amendments. It is disappointing that we have not had a chance to fully consult on them. I have to take it a little bit on faith that they address some of the issues affecting this legislation.

The problem we have more substantively is with the bill. Again it highlights the fact that these amendments have been rushed through. The minister described them in his own words as “urgent”. This is not the way that we should be doing legislation in this place, particularly when it has such a substantive effect on people on the front line. As we have not had a chance to consult and engage, I will take it at face value that these improve the existing bill, and we will not be opposing them.

Amendments agreed to.

Bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.


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