Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017
Parliamentary Record 5
Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020
pp 1623 to 1686
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Tuesday 9 May 2017 1638 Territory Families is planning a major reform of the child protection and youth justice legislation. This includes fundamental reforms to the Youth Justice Act, Care and Protection of Children Act, Guardianship of Infants Act and the Adoption of Children Act. We need to ensure those acts are aligned. Currently there is no formal decision on how the acts will be amended, but as we progress through consultation across government, the non-government sector and community, we will produce consultation-packed papers into jurisdictional research, holding community forums as well as topic-specific and sector-specific workshops for interested parties to design the advice to government on the legislative reform agenda. It is a big piece of work we need to contemporise. This is the first step from our Attorney-General in making sure we are keeping our legislation contemporary, lining up with other jurisdictions and keeping the focus of this government on victims of crime, which we have already done through significant reform of domestic violence legislation. This is another step forward. I am very proud to lead another reform, of which I provided strong direction to my CEO on my first day as minister, and that is a sexual violence prevention frame work. There was money allocated to that reform process in the budget. We need to look at how to prevent such crimes, as has been discussed in the Royal Commission. We need to increase our awareness of sexual violence in the Northern Territory, as well as our reporting levels. We have very low reporting levels, from what women have told me informally about has happened to them. They do not feel comfortable reporting the incidents to police. Many Indigenous women are not accessing our sexual assault services. Remote women especially have difficulty accessing services. We need to be working in this area much more. This is part of recognising that we respond to historical claims. I am very pleased to support this bill. It can provide some hope for those who have been seriously abused as children. I do not think we can underestimate the fact this legislation will be a healing process for some people. It sends the message that we support victims of crime, and we are giving a voice to the often voiceless. I am also equally pleased to be here today, sending a clear message to the community that we care for people who have suffered abuse as children, and that as a community we provide what redress we can. Ms MANISON (Children): Madam Speaker, I too support this bill provided to parliament by the AttorneyGeneral. This is a very important bill to ensure that victims of child abuse have more opportunity to seek the justice they deserve as their life goes on, having to live through the consequences and tragedy of being abused as a child. This is an important bill because it shows the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and its Redress and Civil Litigation report, and that action is being taken. Their hard work, and the information gathereda painstaking, detailed process, but an important onehas been acted upon by jurisdictions to ensure the victims of child abuse have access to better support when they go forward and try to seek justice for the crimes in which they have been the victim. The report stated that state and territory governments should remove the limitation periods that apply to a claim for damages resulting from child sexual abuse; that such amendments operate retrospectively; that the amendments preserve the courts existing jurisdictions and powers to stay proceedings; and that the amendments be implemented as soon as possible. This government is acting upon that. It is important work and, to date, we have seen other jurisdictions, namely New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, remove limitation periods for child abuse cases. Another important point that I just heard the Member for Braitling discussing is the fact the current Limitation Act, to quote from the second reading speech: provides that an action founded in tort must be commenced within three years from the date on which the cause of action first accrued. For minors, the limitation period commences when the minor reaches the age of majority, that is, 18 years of age. That is a very limited period in somebodys life, particularly after having to endure that type of tragic abuse.
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