Page 1125 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 28 March 2017

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Eventually my father returned to Tonga, and although I was young, domestic violence was a part of my life that I could never forget. It is something that I was determined to never allow to exist in my future family, but I know that, for many others, family and personal violence is still a reality that we need to protect against.

This is why I am committed to supporting all legislation that supports victims. I am committed to supporting all legislation that enables timely and otherwise efficient processing of protection orders for those who need it. Having been elected as a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, I also share a responsibility for ensuring that this bill, while optimising procedural requirements, still affords adequate protections for victims, especially vulnerable parties such as children and people with disabilities.

I am therefore also committed to amending legislation, where improvements can be made in the interests of the victims, the interests of the community and the interests of operating effective legal systems, all of which interact with and rely heavily on each other. I am happy to propose two small but significant amendments that we believe will strengthen the bill and protect vulnerable children. In general, I commend this legislation to the Assembly.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (11.45): I am pleased to support the bill today, on behalf of the Greens, because it strengthens responses to domestic and family violence in the ACT, particularly for some of our most vulnerable Canberrans, such as people with a disability or children. The bill will ensure that a child’s best interests will be paramount by not exposing them to the court system unnecessarily, ensuring that documents are not served near a school and ensuring that the child’s parent is given a copy of them.

Children are vulnerable victims and witnesses who often struggle to explain the impacts of their experiences. They are traumatised by witnessing acts of violence perpetrated against someone they love by another person they love, and they may be even further traumatised by having to repeat accounts of what happened on multiple occasions. All of these changes make sure that what is an already traumatic experience for a child is not needlessly amplified when their version of events is required in a court.

These provisions also ensure that a child who was included on a parent’s application for a protection order is able to proceed separately if they are in need of protection but the parent revokes the parent’s application. This is not too uncommon a scenario and one where the Greens agree that the court should be able to continue to protect the child. This is a necessary and vital amendment.

I commend also the amendments that provide additional protections for people with impaired decision-making, ensuring that copies of documents are provided to their guardian to ensure that they can be assisted to understand what is happening.

I support the amendment which allows for a victim who has made a recording that can be used as evidence in a criminal trial to be able to use that same evidence when

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