Page 4687 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 November 2018

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Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill 2018

Debate resumed from 20 September 2018, on motion by Mr Rattenbury:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (4.37): I rise to make brief remarks on behalf of the Canberra Liberals on the Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill. This bill seeks to clarify and improve the operation of the crime sentencing scheme in the ACT as it relates to intensive correction orders and how offenders will engage in community service work. As a result, the Canberra Liberals will support this amendment bill. The bill puts the functions of an intensive correction assessment on a statutory footing, similar to the current statutory arrangements for pre-sentence reports.

Interestingly, the bill imposes a cap on the amount of education or the number of therapeutic activities that count towards completing a community service work order. This cap will be placed at 25 per cent to ensure the integrity of the ordinary meaning and expectation of the words “community service”. The Canberra Liberals are pleased to see the inclusion of this integrity measure. I was, I must admit, a bit surprised that therapy can count towards community service. However, obviously a cap is a good thing if it does. I believe the majority of our community would believe community service means service for the broader community, not just service for oneself.

On the matter of community correction orders and the benefit that can be derived for families of offenders with intensive correction orders, I would like to make a couple of comments about the ability these orders have to keep families together. The debate around sentencing rarely discusses the somewhat invisible children who go through our courts. I would like to highlight for a moment the work of one organisation, SHINE for Kids, the CEO of which I met at lunchtime today. They do some good work for us in our prison system here. They would like us to consider the children of those we sentence, their relationships with their parents, and their educational and socio-emotional outcomes.

This bill clarifies the use in our community of intensive correction orders, and one clear benefit of these, where appropriate as a sentencing option, is that kids and parents are kept together. I believe SHINE for Kids would like to do more for the families of sentenced people and I hope that, when practical, the minister will make time to meet with them with regard to the work they do and can do in the ACT. The Canberra Liberals support the intent of this amendment bill and its provisions and commend the bill to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Corrections and Justice Health, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety and Minister for Mental Health) (4.40), in reply: Sentencing in the criminal process serves many needs. We use it for deterrence from crime but also to encourage rehabilitation and prevent recidivism. As a government committed to reducing recidivism by 25 per cent by 2025 we are continually improving our sentencing framework to promote a safe and just community. The amendments in this bill are another step in the right direction along that path.

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