Page 2260 - Week 06 - Thursday, 6 June 2019

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Sentencing (Drug and Alcohol Treatment Orders) Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

Mr Ramsay, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events, Minister for Building Quality Improvement, Minister for Business and Regulatory Services and Minister for Seniors and Veterans) (4.18): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am delighted to present the Sentencing (Drug and Alcohol Treatment Orders) Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 to the Assembly. From the beginning of this term, we have been getting down to business delivering on our commitments, and I am proud to have led this government’s work in this particular area.

This bill meets one of those important commitments by laying the foundation for a drug and alcohol court for Canberra. We committed to delivering a drug court in the parliamentary agreement. This reform is a key part of our broader strategy to reduce recidivism in Canberra, reduce incarceration rates and promote restorative practices across our justice system.

Throughout this term we have invested in consultation, research and planning to deliver a first-rate drug court. Corrective Services, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Legal Aid ACT and ACT Policing will all have a role to play. I would like to make particular mention of Chief Justice Murrell, who was the first drug court judge in New South Wales, and Justice Burns for their very strong support in this process.

The government believes that a justice system can be and should be restorative and rehabilitative. This means that our court system should support people to repair the harm that they have caused through offending and restore their relationships with the community. When it comes to addressing the impacts of drug and alcohol abuse, harm minimisation is our number one priority. Treating addiction in order to prevent people from falling into a cycle of crime is an important way to minimise the harm of substance abuse to individuals and to families.

Restorative approaches help us make our community whole again after conflict, crime or loss. Holding people responsible for crime can happen while simultaneously addressing the underlying causes of their behaviour.

The ACT drug and alcohol court will engage with people whose crimes are primarily the result of drug addiction. It is a form of therapeutic justice. Therapeutic justice is focused on how to help people live better lives as fully participating members of society. This means having a criminal process that is solutions focused and that is measured by how it changes future behaviour.

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