New justice bill supports equality

Released 21/03/2019

New exemptions from jury duty for part-time workers in emergency services and teaching were introduced into the Legislative Assembly today.

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the amendments in the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 would ensure that part-time teaching and emergency services professionals are treated the same as their full-time colleagues for the purposes of determining whether they need to serve on a jury.

“Currently the exemptions from jury duty for these professions only apply to full time workers,” Minister Ramsay said.

“This amendment will help to support gender equality by removing the distinction between full-time and part-time work, which disproportionally affects women and particularly those women with young children who are working part-time.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found in their 2016 to 17 analysis that 45 per cent of women in the nation work part-time. A total of 61 per cent of women with children under five work part-time, compared to 8.4 per cent of men with children under five.

“While this is a minor amendment to the Juries Regulation Act it demonstrates the commitment of the Government to achieving gender equality in our community,” Minister Ramsay said.

In other amendments introduced in the Bill, family disputes can now be resolved through Legal Aid ACT without a grant of legal assistance from the Legal Aid Commission.

These amendments will assist those who are ineligible for legal assistance at the Legal Aid Commission and unable to afford private legal representation to benefit from the Commission’s expertise in family dispute resolution.

“The Government is committed to protecting vulnerable members of our community that fall within this gap in justice,” Minister Ramsay said.

“These amendments will assist in preventing people in this gap from crippling legal costs of litigation and unnecessary legal action, which in turn reduces reliance on other social services.”

The Legal Aid Commission’s 2016 to 2017 Annual Report found 76 per cent of family dispute resolution conferences had a successful outcome.

“Alternative dispute resolution is generally more timely, amicable and cost efficient than proceeding to trial,” Minister Ramsay said.

“These improvements are a result of the ACT Government listening and working with the community to deliver legislation that is accessible, transparent and timely, while providing positive social and regulatory impacts,” Minister Ramsay said.

- Statement ends -

Section: Gordon Ramsay, MLA | Media Releases

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