Page 1479 - Week 06 - Thursday, 2 July 2020

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Director of Public Prosecutions, ACT courts and tribunals, ACT Corrective Services, youth justice in the Community Services Directorate, the restorative justice unit, and the Sentence Administration Board.

I would like to particularly acknowledge the Victims of Crime Commissioner, Heidi Yates, for her unwavering commitment to this work. I would also like to acknowledge the former commissioner, John Hinchey, for his foundational work on this legislation.

Thank you to the expert advice of the Victims Advisory Board, who have led the development of the charter since late 2016 and contributed a wide variety of viewpoints, including lived experience of crime.

I would like to extend particular thanks to community members who provided their views during public consultation on the charter in 2018. The personal insights provided by people who have been impacted by crime as a victim on what is working well and what can be improved in the justice process directly influenced the victim rights in the charter. I thank them for generously sharing their time and experiences.

Alongside other ACT government reforms focused on increasing access to justice, the proposed bill ensures that the ACT continues to be a leading jurisdiction with a justice system that acknowledges and respects victims rights and provides them with avenues for more meaningful participation in the process.

People who are impacted by crime as victims and survivors are central to the justice process. Their participation ensures that prosecutions have the best possible outcome and that those who commit crime are held to account for those actions. Treating victims with respect will encourage more community members to feel comfortable reporting crime to police, and the charter will ensure that community members have an increased understanding about the justice process and provide an assurance that they will be treated appropriately throughout the process.

The introduction of victims rights will empower victims of crime to participate fully in justice processes and to better recover from crime. Better treatment of people early in their interactions with the justice process will reduce their reliance on therapeutic support and health services. This is especially important given the high level of interaction between the justice system and vulnerable and marginalised community members.

The charter will provide victims with enhanced information and opportunities to participate to assist in navigating the justice system. A restorative complaints resolution process will offer acknowledgment to victims and opportunities for changes in victim engagement practices where a right is not upheld.

This bill is an important step in the government’s commitment to ensuring that the justice process meets community expectations about a growing recognition of victims in the justice process. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hanson) adjourned to the next sitting.

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