Page 1207 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 29 March 2017

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also occur outside our borders. I have asked ACT Health for further detail on these figures; they are not currently available, but we can do some more work on that.

I will also note that the number of officially reported dog attacks in Canberra was, as Mr Doszpot mentioned, 360. I do want to correct the record, though: while all dog attacks are serious, they are not reported as serious dog attacks; they are reported as investigations into dog attacks. In some instances, those investigations find a variety of different dog incidents.

Of the 124 dogs seized by domestic animal services in 2015-16, 12 dogs were declared dangerous. Those declarations were undertaken using a rigorous assessment process using a committee structure and then subjected to further independent scrutiny by the registrar of domestic animal services. Other dogs seized also had very stringent conditions placed upon them, one example of which I outlined yesterday in the chamber. What is clear, though, is that the community is concerned, the Assembly is concerned and I am concerned. That is exactly why I asked for a comprehensive piece of work to underpin how the government and community respond to these issues.

Regarding the motion specifically relating to how responses to dog attacks are handled, I note that rangers deal with an extraordinary range of circumstances in their work; their investigations may be subject to legal proceedings and they may involve, in partnership with other organisations, instances of neglect and cruelty, as well as dangerous and often very upsetting attacks. Investigations may be subject to subsequent legal proceedings, which can often be lengthy and are distressing for those involved. I ask all members to consider the complexity of these issues in discussing this motion. Again I say that I acknowledge that these issues are serious and they require further work, but they are not simple and they must be dealt with thoughtfully.

I am pleased to advise that in the past 12 months there has been a renewed focus of domestic animals services staff on customer service and communication, especially the importance of keeping victims of dog attacks informed on the progress and outcomes of investigations. The directorate has also implemented more rigorous, evidence-based decision-making processes that meet high standards of probity and ensure that decisions are consistent with legislation and properly reflect community expectations. The directorate has also made solid progress in building staff capacity and capability through recruitment, staff development and new systems and processes. Building on the progress already made in this space, I am very pleased to reiterate the government’s commitment to strengthening the capacity of DAS.

Significant work has been underway, some already mentioned in the motion. Much of it has been brought together in the animal welfare and management strategy released today. One aspect of this process was to ensure that greater scrutiny was given to declarations of dangerous dogs, following work with the community working group referenced in the motion today and subsequent High Court rulings about the requirement of the independence of the decision-maker.

While I accept that we can look further at legislative change, it is not correct for Mr Doszpot to say that there has been no work done. Just in February we passed

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