Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017



Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017

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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





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 9 May 2017 1646 removing the limitation period on actions for damages for personal injury arising from child abuse, which includes sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and psychological abuse arising out of the sexual abuse or serious physical abuse providing the amendments apply retrospectively even if a judgement has been given on the basis that a limitation period applying to the cause of action had expired enabling the court to set aside a pervious judgement determined on the basis on a limitation period had expired, and to take into account any amounts paid or payable by way of damages or costs. The bill preserves the jurisdiction of a court to consider the merits of a claim and permanently stay proceedings if necessary. The bill applies retrospectively, which means limitation periods will not apply regardless of when the abuse occurred. Community silence surrounding sexual abuse has meant many victims and survivors have been denied the opportunity to speak out about their experiences. Many victims and survivors are faced with disbelief, blame and a lack of support from those around them. Sadly, sexual assault is prevalent within our society. In the context of discussing this important legislation that supports the survivors of child abuse, it is timely for me to update the Assembly on what our health system provides for in the Territory to support victims and survivors of sexual abuse. The Member for Braitling, the Minister for Territory Families, also provided helpful information this morning on the range of services and support available to victims through her agency and the funding it provides. The Department of Health provides the sexual assault referral centres, more commonly known as SARC, across the Northern Territory to provide support for anyone who has experienced sexual assault. This is made available to adults and children, male and female. Sexual assault can be verbal harassment, unwanted touching or an attack. SARC provides the following services: counselling for adults and children who have been sexually assaulted at any time in their life information, support and counselling for non-offending parents, family members and partners education and information for community or professional groups support when going through a legal process protective behaviour for children working with other government agencies to work on the prevention of sexual assault. In Darwin and Alice Springs SARC provides 24-hour access to medical, legal and counselling information, and SARC services are also provided in Katherine and Tennant Creek. In situations where there has been a recent sexual assault, medical assistance is provided and includes screening and preventative treatment for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy prevention, collection of forensic evidence, screening for drugs where drink spiking is suspected, and provision of medical legal reports. The main role for SARC when children are referred by health practitioners with suspected child sexual abuse is to provide crisis and ongoing support and information to the child. This is in the form of ongoing trauma-informed therapeutic counselling for the child, and includes protective behaviour education. SARC conducts the forensic medical examinations as required. SARC plays an important role in coordinating the delivery of services for children and families in the context of formal sexual abuse and assault investigation. It also coordinates other health services, such as mental health assessment or treatment through the Department of Health, and support services provided by the non-government sector, such as Anglicare and CatholicCare. Sexual abuse is not acceptable in any form or any context. SARC is a service that supports Territorians who are, tragically and sadly, involved because they have been the victim of abuse.

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