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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2020 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 13 August 2020) . . Page.. 2009 ..

I appreciate the remarks Ms Lawder made in the earlier debate about the sensitivity of this issue and the overall support for the bill, but the government will not be supporting the proposed amendment to increase that age to 14 in a number of parts of the legislation. We believe that the evidence we have looked at in reaching the position that is proposed in the bill is strong. In the absence of counter-evidence presented by Ms Lawder, who simply said, “The Liberal Party believes that 14 is the more appropriate age,” we intend to continue with the proposal in the bill, which we believe has a good grounding in both research and consultation.

Amendments negatived.

Bill, as a whole, agreed to.

Bill agreed to.

Crimes (Offences Against Vulnerable People) Legislation Amendment Bill 2020

Debate resumed from 7 May 2020, on motion by Mr Ramsay:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (5.40): I rise today to speak on the Crimes (Offences Against Vulnerable People) Legislation Amendment Bill 2020. As the shadow minister for seniors, I recognise that elder abuse is a serious issue that both the federal government and the media have shone a light on in recent years. To take advantage and abuse our society’s most vulnerable is despicable. Elder abuse in any form is never okay. The community sector, just as one sector, has long been fighting for action on tackling elder abuse. That is just one of the reasons why we will be supporting this amendment bill today.

This legislation has not been without some criticism along the way. I reiterate that I am supportive of the legislation’s intentions, but there were some concerns surrounding it when it was first presented. Perhaps it was rushed and maybe some processes were skipped in trying to get it passed during this term of the Assembly. I heard from some community organisations about the lack of consultation with stakeholders prior to introducing this legislation into the chamber. I would like to mention to the Attorney-General that community consultation is vital in improving legislation. And, to put it frankly, it is also very good manners to talk with our community organisations. Having worked in the community sector myself, I can strongly recommend that.

We heard concerns raised by the ACT Law Society and the Bar Association, which both came out strongly against this legislation. Their concerns about the legislation included that it duplicates existing offences in the ACT and may add confusion to the current legal definition of “vulnerable person” as outlined in the Disability Services Act 1991. They also expressed concern at the phrase “for any other reason is socially isolated or unable to participate in the life of the person’s community”. Sometimes

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