Improving access to justice outcomes for Canberrans

Released 24/09/2019

The ACT Government has introduced a series of legislative reforms this week designed to improve justice outcomes for all Canberrans.

Attorney General Gordon Ramsay said that the suite of reforms ranged from improvements for resolving pay disputes in the workplace, establishing a drug and alcohol court and creating a scheme to protect vulnerable witnesses under cross-examination.

"Improving access to justice in the ACT's legal system has been an absolute priority for the Government and this suite of reforms will ensure vulnerable people are able to better navigate the justice system," Minister Ramsay said.

"Changes to fair work legislation demonstrate the Government’s commitment to combating wage theft and improving access to justice by providing a simple, accessible and efficient process for parties to resolve fair work matters in the ACT.

"The introduction of compulsory mediation for all fair work matters before the Court will assist parties to resolve their disputes early and with the minimum of legal form and technicality.

"The new laws will also allow officials of industrial associations to represent their members in small claim matters before the Court which will immensely benefit workers who do not have the financial capability to pay for their own representation.

"I will introduce changes to the Evidence Act which will establish the legal framework for the use of intermediaries and ground rules hearings in the ACT, implementing key recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

"The introduction of an intermediary scheme for the ACT represents significant progress in ensuring the voices of victims are heard in our criminal justice system.

"Giving evidence can be a particularly daunting experience for children, and this scheme will support young witnesses to better articulate their evidence in court proceedings, as well as their responses under cross-examination.

"The Assembly will also consider the passage of the ACT's first Drug and Alcohol Court which will make a real difference in the lives of offenders whose criminality is driven by addiction.

"This sentencing option will support high risk and high needs offenders to turn their lives around under a strict reporting and rehabilitation program.

"Participating in the DAC is voluntary and offenders are subject to intensive requirements such as being rigorously supervised and regularly tested.

"The DAC's sentencing option will provide both targeted and structured health and justice interventions for offenders and will begin operating at the end of this year.

"This initiative will play a key part in the Government's target to reduce recidivism by 25% by 2025 and aligns with the ongoing 'Building Communities Not Prisons' initiative," Minister Ramsay said.

The creation of a Drug and Alcohol Court is a 2016 Parliamentary Agreement item between ACT Labor and the ACT Greens.

- Statement ends -

Section: Gordon Ramsay, MLA | Media Releases

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