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Wednesday, 26 August 2020
Page: 4134


Senator DUNIAM (TasmaniaAssistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries and Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism) (15:37): I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I table the explanatory memoranda relating to the bills and seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—

FAMILY LAW AMENDMENT (RISK SCREENING PROTECTIONS) BILL 2020

The Australian Government is committed to addressing family violence and continuing to improve the protections offered through the family law system to those vulnerable families affected by violence and abuse.

In December last year, the Government announced $13.5 million for the federal family law courts to pilot a trial of a systematic approach to screening matters for family safety risks, and triaging matters into case management pathways, according to their identified level of risk. This will include a specialist family violence list for high-risk matters.

The Family Law Amendment (Risk Screening Protections) Bill 2020 will support the effective implementation of these important new family safety risk screening and triage processes.

The new family safety risk screening processes will improve the identification of, and responses to, family safety risks in family law matters, to achieve better outcomes for families navigating the family law system.

This Bill reflects the Government's continued commitment to ongoing improvements to the family law system so that families can resolve matters safely, fairly and quickly. The $13.5 million funding for the pilot of risk screening measures builds on the Government's heavy investment in addressing domestic violence, with:

$340 million in funding as part of the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022,

a $150 million COVID-19 Domestic Violence Support Package and

around $20 million in additional legal assistance funding to support those affected by domestic violence during the pandemic.

The Bill and the pilot also responds to findings from reports examining the family law system, including:

The Family Law Council's 2016 report, Families with Complex Needs and the Intersection of the Family Law and Child Protection Systems,

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs' 2017 inquiry, a Better Family Law System to Support and Protect Those Affected by Family Violence, and

The Australian Law Reform Commission's 2019 report, Family Law for the Future - An Inquiry into the Family Law System.

The new Family Safety Risk Screening processes

A pilot of the new family safety risk screening processes will operate from 2020 to 2022, from the Brisbane, Parramatta and Adelaide court registries, which collectively receive more than 42 per cent of filings.

During the pilot, a dedicated team within the courts will screen newly filed parenting matters for family safety risks, and triage and manage matters according to their level of identified risk. A family counsellor will take early action in high risk cases, including conducting a follow-up risk assessment, developing safety and wellbeing plans, and offering referrals to support services. A specialist family violence list, named the Evatt List in honour of the Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC, will be established to manage and resolve high-risk matters. The Evatt list will be supported by a judge-led, multidisciplinary team including registrars, and family counsellors.

The new risk screening and triage processes will be complemented by tailored court processes, safety planning and referrals to support services for at risk families.

Measures in the Bill

The Bill will make minor amendments to the Family Law Act in order to support the new risk screening process by protecting information that will be generated through the new risk screening process, and which are based off existing Family Law Act provisions.

The Bill will ensure that information obtained or generated through the risk screening process cannot be disclosed, except in limited circumstances. Important exceptions to this confidentiality will enable disclosure if it is necessary to protect a child from the risk of harm, or to prevent or lessen serious threats to the life, health or property of a person.

These confidentiality provisions are consistent with existing family counselling provisions of the Family Law Act.

The Bill will also ensure that information obtained or generated through the new risk screening process is inadmissible in any court or tribunal. A critical exception would apply where family safety risk screening information or evidence indicates that a child has been abused or is at risk of abuse.

These admissibility provisions are also consistent with existing family counselling provisions of the Family Law Act.

By ensuring the confidentiality and inadmissibility of information obtained through risk screening, the Bill will enable parties to freely and confidently participate in the process. This is especially important for protecting family violence victims in high-risk cases, and for maintaining the accuracy and reliability of the risk screening information used to triage matters.

The confidentiality and inadmissibility protections for risk screening information are also appropriate because the intention is the early identification and management of safety concerns, and provide an appropriate case management pathway for matters, including referring high-risk cases to a dedicated court list. The risk screening information is not intended to serve the same purpose as, or replace, evidence in proceedings, which is provided through usual methods, including the notices of risk that form part of existing practice.

Finally, the Bill will provide immunity for court officials, such as registrars and family counsellors, when undertaking new non-judicial roles as part of the risk screening process.

This immunity reflects the protection currently afforded to family consultants under the Family Law Act. It will support court workers to carry out the new functions involved in risk screening, such as making referrals and triaging matters into case management pathways based on risk screening information.

Conclusion

This Bill will enhance the family law system's approach to risk identification and management and improve outcomes for vulnerable families. It is another example of this Government's continuing commitment to addressing family violence in Australia and to ensuring that the family law system protects victims of family violence.

SPORT INTEGRITY AUSTRALIA AMENDMENT (WORLD ANTI-DOPING CODE REVIEW) BILL 2020

The Australian Government is a strong advocate for clean and fair sport, as demonstrated by the sport integrity reforms enacted in its response to the Review of Australia's Sports Integrity Arrangements (Wood Review). While Australia can do what it can in its own backyard, sport is a global activity, and it is important that Australians are subject to the same anti-doping arrangements as our international competitors.

The World Anti-Doping Code (Code), administered by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and implemented by sports and governments around the world, ensures that athletes are treated the same and abide by the same core set of rules everywhere, regardless of nationality and sport. Australia, as a signatory to the UNESCO Convention against Doping in Sport (Convention), has an obligation to implement anti-doping arrangements that are consistent with the principles of the Code.

WADA initiated a comprehensive review of the Code in late 2017, as it does every six years, to ensure it remains up to date with doping methods and practices. A key theme of the review was proportionality - to ensure the Code targets the right stakeholders and applies consequences that are proportionate to an individual's culpability.

Consequently, some of the key changes to the Code include:

Broadening the scope of who may fall within the Code's jurisdiction to include people involved with an anti-doping organisation, but who do not meet the definition of athlete or support person;

Providing more flexibility for an anti-doping organisation to manage a violation committed by a recreational athlete or an individual who may not have the mental capacity to understand the anti-doping rules,

Creating a new anti-doping rule violation to protect individuals who provide information on possible anti-doping rule violations and are consequently the subject of threats and intimidation; and

Encouraging athletes who return a positive sample for a 'substance of abuse' to seek help and assistance from an approved counselling or rehabilitation service.

To ensure that core anti-doping arrangements are harmonised across the world, international sporting federations, governments, and anti-doping organisations that are signatories to the Code are currently updating their anti-doping policies and legislation to reflect the revised Code.

The Sport Integrity Australia Amendment (World Anti-Doping Code Review) Bill 2020 ensures Australia continues to meet its international obligations to enact legislation that is consistent with the principles of the Code and its associated International Standards. The revisions to the Code will commence from 1 January 2021. If Australia does not amend its legislation to reflect the revised Code, we will be non-compliant with our obligations under the Convention, and Australian athletes will be subject to out-of-date anti-doping arrangements.

Sport Integrity Australia is the Australian government agency responsible for working with sporting organisations to eliminate doping. Sport Integrity Australia's powers and functions are specified under the Sport Integrity Australia Act 2020 and the Sport Integrity Australia Regulations 2020.

A key revision to the Code is broadening the scope of those who can be subject to anti-doping arrangements. This is largely in response to the Russian doping scandal, where the McLaren report stated that Russia operated a state-sponsored doping scheme for several years. Key facilitators of the scheme sat outside the jurisdiction of the Code. In response, the revised Code will now provide anti-doping organisations authority to subject individuals such as board members, officers, directors, and specified employees to certain anti-doping rules which target facilitation. Importantly, the Code recognises that such individuals should not be subject to the full requirements of the Code, such as whereabouts and testing.

The revised Code also recognises that, in certain circumstances, it may not be appropriate for an anti-doping organisation to publish the details of an individual's anti-doping rule violation. The Code requires an anti-doping organisation to maintain a public-facing violations list which details information of all anti-doping rule violations (except for those under 18 years old). The revised Code broadens this exception to include athletes who compete for recreational purposes (unless that person has been considered a national-level athlete or international-level athlete within the previous five years), and individuals who do not have the mental capacity to understand the anti-doping rules.

The revised Code recognises that anti-doping organisations require greater flexibility to respond to misinformation regarding an ongoing anti-doping rule violation. Currently, the Code restricts when an anti-doping organisation can respond to address misinformation to when the comments can be directly attributed to the athlete or support person, or a member of their entourage. The revised Code broadens this to include where the comments can be attributed to information provided by an athlete or a member of their entourage. This revision also allows the Government to continue to implement its sport integrity reforms outlined in its response to the Wood Review.

The proposed amendment to the definition of athlete sits outside the revisions to the Code. The amendment is necessary to clarify the operation of the National Anti-Doping Scheme, that a person remains an athlete (and subject to the anti-doping rules) for six-months after the time that person last competes. This provides more clarity and certainty around whether a person is an athlete.

The Government remains committed to the fight against doping, and it is paramount that the international sporting movement and governments work together to implement harmonious core anti-doping programs that reflect the Code and its accompanying International Standards. This Bill ensures that Australia continues to play its part in international anti-doping arrangements, safeguards the health and wellbeing of athletes, and meets its obligations under the Convention.

Ordered that further consideration of the second reading of these bills be adjourned to the first sitting day of the next period of sittings, in accordance with standing order 111

Ordered that the bills be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.