Page 1771 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 June 2016

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MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Urban Renewal) (3.29): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I am introducing a very important bill to help support vital initiatives of the government in the prevention of domestic and family violence. Family violence is an issue across Australia, and increasing numbers of people in our local community are reporting family violence and its devastating impacts. This government remains committed to a family violence prevention program, and that is why we are introducing this bill.

The Safer Families Levy Bill amends the Rates Act 2004 to establish a new levy to ensure there is sufficient funding locked in in the long term for the delivery of domestic and family violence prevention initiatives. Funding raised from the levy will support a range of urgent actions in our community to create safer families through whole-of-government and community-backed responses to family violence.

These initiatives seek to prevent violence against women and their children, consistent with the ACT prevention of violence against women and children strategy 2011-17. The safer families levy will be applied equally across all residential and rural ACT properties as an annual charge alongside general rates. To achieve this, the bill makes amendments to the Rates Act to implement the levy. The amount of the levy will be determined by disallowable instrument, and as of 1 July 2016 it will be $30 per residential and rural property.

Similar to the approach taken in the forthcoming Rates (Pensioner Rebate) Amendment Bill, I will authorise a disallowable instrument under my existing powers in the Taxation Administration Act to implement the levy from 1 July 2016 as I have announced in the budget. The Assembly will consider the bill in August. The levy will ensure that secure and predictable revenue is collected to support these vital initiatives. The levy will raise funds to support the important work and reforms of the ACT government and the community in response to family violence.

Just a few of the initiatives that this levy will fund are a full-time coordinator-general for family safety to lead the whole-of-government effort to improve outcomes for domestic and family violence victims; integrated case management and coordination of family violence services; more training for front-line staff; translation and interpreting services; enhanced quality assurance and support for improved decision-making in the area of child protection services; an innovative residential behaviour change program for men who use or are at risk of using violence; and improved access to legal aid.

In conjunction with the family violence and personal violence bills presented this morning by the Attorney-General, this levy plays an important part in establishing a cohesive government and community service response to domestic and family violence in the territory. I wholeheartedly commend this bill to the Assembly.

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