Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 March 2017) . . Page.. 1129 ..
protect their rights, whilst continuing to provide a safe space for them. These amendments ensure that, where possible, children feel safe to identify when they have witnessed, or been victim of, violence, particularly in the home. It provides an opportunity for them to give a statement without the persecution they may feel when talking about the horrors they have witnessed or been subjected to by someone they trust.
I would like to touch on a couple of elements in this bill that I think will make a significant improvement to the processes that victims will go through in getting their lives back together. The first area is the ability for a recorded statement of a police interview being admissible as evidence in an application for a protection order in some circumstances. This change will make a real difference to those victims who are finding it difficult to make decisions in moving towards a domestic violence order. It means that they do not have to go through repetitive and emotional processes.
The second area that I want to mention is the additional protection for people with impaired decision-making ability. We know that people with disabilities, and particularly with impaired decision-making abilities, are at an elevated risk of being victims of domestic violence. I think the Attorney-General mentioned in his introductory speech that one way this bill addresses disability and impaired decision-making is by requiring that a copy of any documents served in relation to a domestic or family violence order be given also to a person’s guardian. This means that a guardian will be made aware of any application, to ensure they can explain the documents and provide assistance to the person with impaired decision-making abilities.
Further to this, the amendments to the personal and workplace protection order schemes also provide members of our community with further protections than what is available under criminal law. The amendments cover not only circumstances of family violence but also individual personal violence which otherwise does not constitute family violence.
With these amendments brought forward by the Attorney-General, the government is balancing the human rights obligations of the Human Rights Act with the unique needs of families, individuals and children affected by violence and household trauma. This government is taking concrete and practical steps to improve lives and build reform around the issue of violence in our community.
The safer families package is an unprecedented commitment to make lives better for many in our community. This bill, including the amendments introduced by the Attorney-General, is a small but vital part of this package. I am happy to support the bill today.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (12.01): I rise today in support of this important bill. Family and personal violence is not just a private issue that starts and stops behind closed doors. It is a complex and devastating problem that affects our whole community. It will take sustained efforts from the whole community to shed light on these issues, promote healthy relationships and provide those involved with strong support networks.