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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 30 March 2017) . . Page.. 1323 ..

coerced, the process for hearing from these people offers opportunities for court staff to identify the duress and to respond.

The amendments in this bill were drafted to ensure that the protection order process works for people who need protection. Being able to amend an order to account for changed circumstances or changed needs is an important feature of the new legislation.

In considering the amendments proposed, I have consulted with professionals in the court registry, with Legal Aid ACT, with the Victims of Crime Commissioner and with the Domestic Violence Crisis Service. As the government did in crafting the bill, I have listened to their views about how the legislation would work in practice. On the basis of feedback on how protection orders should work in practice, I believe the government’s bill is a better outcome for the community.

I want to emphasise that I think Mrs Kikkert’s amendment is in the right spirit. She has brought attention to a difficult and very important part of this process. It is critical to make sure that we support people who are at risk of coercion and intimidation to get help. I cannot disagree in the least that this warrants careful examination and attention.

As this new legislation is implemented, I am always open to engagement on ways to improve it. There can be no question that, on this topic, we are committed to the principle of helping vulnerable people. Although on this specific amendment stakeholder consultation shows that the government's legislation is preferable, I welcome further engagement on how the system can be improved.

On the basis of this government’s engagement with the process, and on the basis of its consultation on this specific proposal, the government will be opposing the amendments. The original legislation in the bill meets its target of improving the process for people who need protection, and it contains a range of measures that enhance protections for the most vulnerable people in the process.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (11.18): I rise to speak to the proposed amendments made by Mrs Kikkert. Thank you for the opportunity to respond to what is, I am sure, a well-intentioned amendment to the Family and Personal Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. I can understand why Mrs Kikkert would wish that protection orders not be amended if it could be foreseen that the protected person could remain at risk of harm, particularly if a person is under duress or coercion to apply to make such an amendment or their child remains at risk.

We all know that the issue of family violence is all too common, often underestimated in its extent and not always reported. Mrs Kikkert, I was very moved by your speech on Tuesday relating to this, and I totally honour your intentions in this regard. But this is why this legislation amendment bill is so important: it makes the system a little easier to navigate, and hopefully more victims will engage with both the civil and criminal justice systems to seek the protection and resolution that they deserve.

The point of this clause, from the government’s perspective and to my understanding, is that the parties consent. If the parties do not genuinely consent, the application for

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