Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007
Parliamentary Record 17
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4846 Crimes Act Victoria. As a result, the member making the recording must certify that the recording has not been altered after its making, including that any prescribed requirements, if any, have been complied with. The making of the certificate will ensure the risks of tampering or manipulation are minimised. As I previously mentioned, I am pleased to introduce this bill into the House today, and believe that all members will agree that the raft of amendments will enhance police operations and enable them to do their job more efficiently and effectively. Madam Speaker, I commend the bill to honourable members. Debate adjourned. DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE BILL (Serial 120) Bill presented and read a first time. Mr STIRLING (Justice and Attorney General): Madam Speaker, I move that the bill be now read a second time. The bill before the House today is the culmination of over a year of intensive consultation and legislative and policy development. It is legislation intended to tackle the serious and difficult issue of domestic violence head on. There are many elements to this bill. Some have come about as a result of the extensive stakeholder consultation, while others reflect best practice in Australia and overseas. Some provisions were developed specifically in response to the issues raised and recommendations made in the Little Children are Sacred report. The government has taken some tough decisions in the development of the bill to protect women and children. We thank those who have taken the time to contribute to the development of the bill through submission and comment. It is an unacceptable tragedy that lives have been ruined and lost in the Territory as a result of domestic and family violence. These reforms will provide the protection for people experiencing violence in their relationships to rebuild their and their families lives. These reforms mark an important step in bringing about genuine change in community attitudes and behaviour which I hope will make a difference to many families who live under the threat of violence. I will now outline the major features of the bill. First, Madam Speaker, the title of the bill differs from that of the act it is replacing. Renaming the relevant legislation the Domestic and Family Violence Act serves to indicate the breadth of relationships that will be covered by the new act. Violence in intimate relationships can range over all sorts of different relationships in the family and in the home, and is not limited to physical violence against women. The change of title acknowledges the impact of violence on children and others in the family. We have included objects in the bill that do not appear in the current act to convey to the community the goals, values and principles we are aiming to achieve through the enactment of this legislation. The primary objective of the bill is to ensure the safety of all people, including children, who experience domestic and family violence. The second objective is to ensure that those who commit violence in their relationships must accept responsibility for their behaviour. The objects will assist practitioners and the court to interpret and apply the legislation. The bill also expands the range of people now able to seek protection by seeking an order. The bill provides that proceedings for a Domestic Violence Order can be instituted on behalf of a child by a relative or other responsible adult. Young people between 15 and 18 will also be able to institute proceedings on their own behalf with the leave of the court. The reform will address what has been uncertainty in relation to minors under the current act. In cases where a police officer or child protection officer reasonably believes that a child has been exposed to domestic violence and is likely to be adversely affected, the officer must apply for an order. This measure will ensure that protection is provided as a matter duty, another protection not available under the Domestic Violence Act. It is widely recognised that the impact on the social and educational development of children who experience violence or who are exposed to violence towards family members can be long lasting. We also know that, to some extent, domestic violence is associated with the incidence of child abuse, and there is a direct relationship between domestic violence and child health. These reforms will ensure that children enjoy the same protections from family violence as are available to adults. They aim to ensure that the long-term development of children who find themselves in this situation are not damaged by the experience or exposure to violence at a young age. This initiative is consistent with developments in domestic violence legislation in other states and territories, as well as being consistent with the principle of the best interests of the child contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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