Sexual and Family Violence

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SpeakersSpeaker; McMahon Ms Lylea; Keneally Ms Kristina
BusinessQuestions Without Notice, QWN

Page: 27731

Ms LYLEA McMAHON: My question is addressed to the Premier. How is the New South Wales Government addressing sexual and family violence and supporting its victims?

Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: I thank the member for Shellharbour for her question. Any violence within our communities is a breach of trust, but family and sexual violence breaches that trust within the intimacy of our homes and the sanctity of our families and relationships. I am certain that all members would agree that preventing and addressing these crimes that devastate families and young lives is of paramount importance.

Today the New South Wales and Commonwealth governments released our response to the report co-authored by the Australian and New South Wales law reform commissions on family violence and child protection. The report highlights the hard work we have done in New South Wales to reform the way our courts deal with victims of sexual crimes and how laws protect our women and children. Our efforts include the Sexual Assault Task Force report in 2006, the Sentencing Council reforms to sexual offences in 2008, the landmark report of the Wood Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Care and Protection in 2009 and our response through the $750 million Keep Them Safe Program, which released its inaugural annual report yesterday. We have transformed the way children are cared for and protected following former Justice James Wood's recommendations. Keep Them Safe marked the beginning of a new era in collaboration and partnership between government, community organisations and individuals. Already that collaboration is showing results.

In regard to sexual assault, New South Wales now places the concerns of the victim at the centre of the justice system, giving them rights to special protections in court, such as the use of closed-circuit television [CCTV] and stopping cross-examination from the accused in person, as well as putting a definition of consent in black and white in the law for the first time. It is these landmark reforms which the law reform commissions have taken note of and used to map out the future of child care and protection and sexual assault law across Australia. This report makes a number of recommendations to the Australian States and Territories. One of the most important of the major reforms outlined in the report—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Premier has the call. I call the member for Hawkesbury to order.

Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: As I was saying, one of the most important of the major reforms outlined in the report is the establishment of the family violence courts.

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Hawkesbury to order for the second time.

Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: I will repeat that for the benefit of the member for Hawkesbury. He may be interested in family violence courts. The New South Wales Government welcomes this recommendation in principle and members will be interested to hear that we have established a working group to examine the implementation of family violence courts in New South Wales. The working group will also examine a related proposal to establish specialist sexual assault courts in New South Wales. I am sure all members will be pleased to note in the report that the law commissions have recognised that New South Wales has, on many fronts, been leading the way in our legal and judicial approaches to child protection and sexual assault.

New South Wales laws in these areas are singled out as a basis for many of the report's recommendations and while I am pleased to be able to inform the House of this, I can only remark that this is a small achievement within a battle from which we cannot divert our focus. I acknowledge the work of the Australian and New South Wales law reform commissions and assure the House that the Government will maintain its focus on this critical issue that goes to the right of our children and families to be raised in safe and secure environments.