Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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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 27 February 1990 It wi 11 come a s no surpri se that the report note s that, on a per cap ita basis, the level of violence in the Northern Territory is substantially higher than elsewhere in Australia. As the committee pointed out, our particularly high homicide rate may be explained partly by the relative youthfulness of our population, the high proportion of males, many of them transient, and the high Aboriginal population. Other factors contributing to our high level of violence obviously include heavy alcohol consumption, climate and isolation. The violence experienced in Aboriginal communities is by no means limited to the Territory. The committee commented in relation to Australia as a whole: 'The level of violence existing in some Aboriginal communities is of a scale that dwarfs that in any sector of white Australia'. Members of this Assembly will be well aware that the government has taken numerous steps to counteract vi 01 ence in the Territory. Some of these measures are more than a decade old. The new community policing concept, indeed the whole thrust of the quiet revolution that is taking place in the police service, is aimed at making the Territory a much safer place to live. It is particularly pleasing to be able to report that many of the more significant recommendations of the National Committee on Violence are already in place in the Territory. In fact, some of the recommendations are based on Territory initiatives. However, there is no room for complacency. The government is examining all the committee's recommendations closely and will take whatever additional steps are considered necessary in the public interest. I will now particularly those Territory police. in more deta il responsibilities. highl ight some of the committee's recommendations, relating directly to violence in the Territory and to the During the debate, my ministerial colleagues will comment on recommendations which impinge on their portfolio One of the committee's recommendations is that government support alcohol and substance abuse education and rehabilitation programs in Aboriginal communities. It is pleasing to be able to report that the Northern Territory is a 1 eader in thi sa rea. Current in it i at i ve s by the police include fringe community arrangements in Alice Springs, the efforts of remote area school-based constables, and the Police Aide Scheme. The committee makes numerous recommendations in relation to the control of firearms. Our existing Firearms Act meets most of those recommendations already and several others are embraced in proposals for legislative reform which were approved recently by Cabinet. The legislation will be put before this Assembly during 1990. One recommendation is that the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime be taken into account as an aggravating factor in sentencing. In the Territory, the Criminal Code of 1983 recognises weapons as an aggravating feature in relation to' several offences and, in any event, courts generally recognise the use of a firearm as an aggravation even where there is no statutory guidance on the matter. However, the Department of Law will examine the present position to ensure that the application of the law is consistent with the committee's recommendations. The committee makes a number of recommendations aimed at improving the status of the victim in the criminal justice system. It is a welcome move and one which my government strongly supports. Initiatives, such as victim impact statements and counselling services, are presently under review and will be further examined by the Crime Victims Advisory Committee. There are numerous recommendations calling for drafting of legislation to protect the 8737