SIMON Corbell says new laws expanding the offences where a person can make a victim impact statement were passed today in the ACT Legislative Assembly.
Simon said these changes, as part of the Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 2015, provide an important opportunity for a victim, their family member or carer to make a victim impact statement where previously they would not have been able to.
The amendment provides that a victim impact statement can now be made where a person was exposed to a risk of death, serious injury or illness, or any of those risks materialises, due to a failure to comply with a health and safety duty. A victim impact statement can also be made by a person who is a victim of negligent driving resulting in grievous bodily harm
“This amendment enables freedom of expression in criminal proceedings and supports recognition and equality before the law by providing a voice to those who have been affected by a death, serious injury or illness,” Simon said.
Other changes in the Act include a requirement for police officers to notify the Aboriginal Legal Service before asking an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person to consent to a forensic procedure.
“The legislation brings forensic procedure protections into line with similar laws relating to the questioning of suspects by police.
“These mechanisms support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are significantly over-represented in our criminal justice system, to access legal advice and to safeguard their welfare. In passing these laws, the government is responding to a gap in the law brought to my attention by the Aboriginal Legal Service.”
The legislation also makes a number of amendments to improve processes around non-intimate forensic procedures undertaken on people who are unable to given informed consent. Amendments include:
- an expansion of the definition of ‘incapable’ to include people who are temporarily incapable of giving consent; and
- the creation of an additional class of people known as a ‘close associate’ (domestic partner, carer, close relative or close friend) who can give consent on behalf of an incapable person for non-intimate forensic procedures.
“These amendments will contribute to ensuring that the ACT is a safe, inclusive and respectful community that allows everyone to participate in community life, while providing additional protections for vulnerable people.”