07 February 2024

Ms JODIE HARRISON (Charlestown—Minister for Women, Minister for Seniors, and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault) (14:44): I speak in support of the Crime and Criminal Procedure Legislation Amendment Bill 2023. The bill includes changes to legislation on crime and criminal procedure in New South Wales. Several of those changes are of particular relevance to the prevention of domestic and family violence. I work closely with colleagues across government in the pursuit of improved policy and program responses to domestic and family violence, not least the Attorney General. I am pleased to be able to support the bill currently before the House. We of course want protections for victim-survivors of crime and domestic violence to be more effective, clearer and more consistent, and the bill contributes to that outcome.

I turn to specific measures in the bill to support victim-survivors of domestic and family violence. Items [10] to [12] of schedule 2 to the bill include reforms to the Victims Register. The Victims Register provides victim-survivors with certain information about offenders in prison to assist them with safety planning. That includes information about a change to the inmate's release date, the name of the correctional centre in which the inmate is being kept, the escape of the inmate, the classification of the inmate and whether the inmate has been granted a leave permit. Currently only victims of offences for which the inmate is serving a sentence are eligible to be registered with the Victims Register. The bill expands access to the Victims Register to a new category of interested persons. An interested person can be someone who is not a defined victim but who can demonstrate a reasonable risk of endangerment to life or safety by the offender. In practice that could apply to a former intimate partner, a previous victim or a witness in proceedings in which the offender was convicted.

Under the changes, an interested person can be provided with the same information as a protected victim. It is a sensible change that provides greater peace of mind to persons who may be at risk from a perpetrator of domestic and family violence. It also complements the significant work underway on primary prevention and early intervention measures. Our approach with primary prevention and early intervention is to implement evidence‑based programs to stop domestic violence before it happens and to hold perpetrators to account for their actions. We recognise that we need to work with offenders to effectively change their behaviour to break the cycle of domestic and family violence.

Turning to another element of the bill, schedule 3 amends the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 to bolster protections for victims and provide clarity to courts in apprehended violence order [AVO] proceedings. The amendments ensure that victim-survivors have clarity about the status of an existing AVO and whether it is in force. The amendment also ensures that the affected parties, including victim‑survivors, have appropriate standing to participate in related proceedings. For example, it will enable a victim‑survivor to seek a variation to the terms of the order, if they think they need it. The changes are designed to simplify AVO proceedings and reduce confusion in what can be highly confronting matters. I reiterate my support for the bill. The changes align with the New South Wales Government's priorities to keep victim‑survivors safe. The bill simplifies legal processes and offers increased protection to those at risk of violence. I commend the bill to the House.