Page 2094 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 6 June 2018

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In my first ministerial statement of priorities I emphasised that justice is only true justice when it is timely, accessible and transparent. To achieve a justice system that meets that standard requires understanding of how all our decisions as a government in one area affect different parts of the justice system. That understanding has led us to expand the justice system by adding an eighth magistrate; provide Legal Aid, the Director of Public Prosecutions and our community legal centres with additional funding to support their vital roles in the legal system; and introduce a series of bills to improve the way the courts work and to respond to emerging issues.

These measures are making a real difference for vulnerable people in our community. They support our justice system to protect the rights of people who come before the courts.

MR STEEL: Minister, can you give some more detail about how work to change legislation is supporting vulnerable women, families and others?

MR RAMSAY: I thank Mr Steel for the supplementary question. Over the past year our focus on delivering new legislation has been to take action in response to national work on reforming our laws in relation to vulnerable people. This term we have already introduced significant reforms to our criminal laws in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

A new offence for repeated abuse over time, and a reformed offence for grooming, are now in place to ensure that our laws can be effectively used to hold offenders accountable. We also introduced new legislation on family and personal violence orders. That legislation focused on the experience of people who are seeking protection from the courts. It was designed to ensure that the trauma that can arise from being involved in the court process is minimised and to ensure that vulnerable people are effectively able to seek protection in the courts.

This is an important body of law reform that has followed the ongoing policy work of the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence and it is an example of the changes to legislation that support direct services to people in the community.

MS CHEYNE: Minister, can you illustrate how this government’s investment in resources for the courts, for new legislation and for legal services delivers concrete benefits for people in Canberra?

MR RAMSAY: I thank Ms Cheyne for the supplementary question. This government is delivering significant resources to ensure that people who seek access to the justice system are empowered to do so and are supported.

We are providing $5.3 million for a new magistrate, more Legal Aid staff and more DPP staff. The Magistrates Court provides important justice services to the community, including the granting of domestic and family violence protection orders. Expanding its capabilities will make the courts more accessible to people who are seeking protection.

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