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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 Those statistics need to be drawn to the attention of the Assembly and I trust that those sorts of issues will be addressed by the Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community. I doubt whether there would be any of those deaths in which alcohol was not involved. I may be proved wrong, but I would be very surprised if alcohol was not involved in every last one of them. I note the reference that the Chief Minister made to a number of recommendations aimed at improving the status of the victim in the criminal justice system. Without anticipating debat.e on a bill before the Assembly, I want to ra i se my concerns about the Cri me Vi ct i ms Advi sory Committee. The setting up of a committee is a not inexpensive operation. Everybody knows that government resources are scarce. I believe that the way to go in this regard is to institute some pilot programs. The Chief Minister referred to initiatives such as victim impact statements and counselling services being presently under review. The report of the National Committee on Violence's recommendation 88 on page 199 states: 'Where they have not already done so, state and territory governments should establish counselling and support services for victims and witnesses along the lines of those provided by the Victoria Court Information Network'. My reservation about the Crime Vi ct i ms Advi sory Committee approach is that, basically, it will be reinventing the wheel. The National Committee on Violence has already come up with that recommendation. If resources are scarce, I suggest that they should be put into a pilot counselling project, a pilot project on victim impact statements and that sort of thing. I realise the fiscal problems in that regard. I draw the attention of the government to the Victorian experience with alternative dispute settlements where the system was set up exactly on this basis. There were 2 or 3 centres in the state where an alternative di spute settlement arrangement was instituted to take the pressure off the lower courts and find a means of reducing violence in the community. I will come back to that in a moment. However, in this context,I raise it as an example of an instance in which, in this broad area, pilot projects have been useful. I think that pilot projects in respect of victim impact and victim counselling services would be money better spent than setting up a committee that does not give me the impression of doing anything other than redoing the job which the national committee has already done. I have read with interest the interim monographs which the committee has issued and I believe that they have made a great contribution to policy workers' understandi ng of the issues. As I have said, I be li eve that the establishment of a victims counselling service would be a more appropriate course of action. I also want to make a point in respect of dispute settlement. The committee report refers to the escalation of disputes between persons in an ongoing relationship with each other. It says that conflict resulting in violence arises between persons involved in such a relationship, be they neighbours, work mates or spouses. Trivial disputes may simmer for years, poisoning the relationship between participants and detracting from the quality of their lives. The report states that, if society is able to provide a forum for taking the heat out of those simmering disputes, the level of violence might be reduc~d. In this context, it is worth referring to the history of the development of our magi strates courts because the Lower Courts hi storically provided that function. Because of increased .work load and the increased complexity of the tasks allotted to the Lower Courts, they are not as immediately 8743