Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Amendment (Review) Bill 2016
May 12, 2016
Ms JODI McKAY ( Strathfield ) ( 10:27 :50 ): I contribute to debate on the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Amendment (Review) Bill 2016 and state at the outset that I am concerned about the proposed amendment to the Coroner's Act relating to the Domestic Violence Death Review Team—a Labor government initiative. As Minister for Women I introduced the Coroners Amendment (Domestic Violence Death Review Team) Bill in this place in May 2010. As I said then, the role of the Domestic Violence Death Review Team was to:
… identify gaps in services and systems with the aim of developing a better understanding of how these can be improved to ensure that people who are victims of domestic violence do not fall through the cracks.
In responding to the bill in 2010 the then shadow Minister for Women, Prue Goward, issued a media release with the headline "Minister for Women just doesn't get it. My message to the Minister for Women and to the Attorney General is, "You just don't get it." The death review team should report annually to the Parliament. This is about transparency and being able to act quickly to make recommendations when gaps are identified within services and systems in New South Wales.
This Government had never treated the Domestic Violence Death Review Team with respect. The current legislation requires the team to meet four times a year. However, in 2014 meetings were cancelled, there was a delay of eight months or more between meetings and, more disturbingly, the report tabled on 30 October 2015 covered a two-year period—not 12 months. Under this legislation it will be two-year reporting. Labor contends that this is a lazy and disrespectful approach to those non-government organisations that worked so hard to see the review team created, and we will be seeking to amend the bill.
The bill does have worthy elements, such as expanding key definitions, including that the victim's current partner can also seek an ADVO if they are being harassed by the victim's ex-partner. Pleasingly, the bill recognises the particular impacts of domestic violence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Intersex, older people and people with disability. I represent one of the most culturally diverse electorates in New South Wales, and I have written to the Minister seeking recognition of the impact on my local services of the cost of translation services. Currently, extra funding for these critical translation and interpreter services is not provided by the Government, and I am yet to hear from the Minister on this issue. We must look at all aspects of service delivery if we are to address the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
We also need to do more to protect people, particularly women and girls who are subjected to domestic violence and sexual assault. People with disability are some of the most vulnerable in our community. The Government is taking an inadequate approach in providing important protections and safeguards for people with disability. I also support the expansion of the range of offences that are categorised as domestic violence for which an ADVO can be sought. It is important that our fight against domestic violence takes into consideration the fast pace of technology. The inclusion of abuse by text messages, for example, is appropriate. We also support allowing women and children to apply privately for an ADVO. The easier we make the ADVO process, the less threatening it is and the greater the protection we can provide to victims.
I do not intend to go through all the elements of the bill, but the amendments regarding ADVOs are sensible and long overdue. As I said, earlier, I remain concerned about the Government's undermining of the Domestic Violence Death Review Team. The reason given by the Attorney General appeared to relate only to administrative challenges in preparing reports. This should not be the reason for watering down the powers and the importance of the review team's work in analysing gaps, deficiencies and failings of government. In conclusion, I acknowledge the work of my local domestic violence liaison committee in helping victims of domestic violence in our community. I reiterate that most of those victims—children, women and men—come from culturally and linguistically diverse communities; English is not their first language. I ask the Minister to respond to my inquiry as to the cost of translation and interpreter services, and to support my local services and the wonderful work they do. I commend the bill to the House.