Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 30 March 2017) . . Page.. 1326 ..
On this occasion Mrs Kikkert is absolutely and completely correct. She is actually saying that she wants judicial officers in this territory to exercise their judgment. She is not saying they cannot change the order. She is saying that they may change the order, unlike this government, which is forcing a judicial officer, occasionally against their better judgment, to change an order when their instinct is that maybe this is not right: maybe this woman or this man is being coerced; maybe this woman is doing this because she is broke and if the husband comes home or has more contact maybe he will pay his way more and support the kids.
There is a whole multitude of ways in which women, especially in domestic violence circumstances, can be coerced. There is a whole multitude of ways where women in domestic violence circumstances might consent, against their better judgment, to a change in an order. A judicial officer is someone we pay a princely sum to and someone we put on a pedestal. We cannot take their jobs away from them—that is how much we value them—on a whim. And there is now no mechanism where they can exercise their judgment on something as vital as this.
I congratulate Mrs Kikkert on the work that she has done on this. I condemn the government and the Greens for their failure to act when the bald facts of the case are put before them, because they are too proud.
MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (11.29): I also want to make a few quick remarks about the amendments. Firstly, I want to acknowledge Mrs Kikkert and thank her for bringing forward the amendments to this important legislation and for sharing her own story about the effects of domestic and family violence on her and her family.
Unfortunately, many of us have been touched by our own lived experience with domestic and family violence, either ourselves or within our families. It is up to all of us to end it. It will take a concerted effort by all of us in this place and also within our community to do so. By bringing the amendments forward it means that there is a clear willingness from across the spectrum and across the chamber to engage on this issue and to seek to ensure that things are better for women and families who are impacted by domestic and family violence.
As the Attorney-General noted, the amendments are well intentioned. But the last thing we want to do in amending this important legislation is to make it harder or less accessible for women or families to take control of their lives and to move forward. The purpose of the family and personal violence acts—and it is what this amendment bill seeks to do—is to streamline the processes set out in the acts to make them easier and clearer for victims of family and personal violence who are seeking access to protection orders. We do not want to create more vulnerabilities or obstacles— whether they are financial or administrative—for women which make it more difficult to control their lives.