Criminal Law Consolidation (Children and Vulnerable Adults) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Ms CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (12:18):  In this case, we, the opposition, indicate our support for the bill and so I will be brief. We may need to look at some amendments in another place. We have not had extensive consultation with others, and we appreciate that we may only have six sitting days left, so we are trying to hastily deal with as many of these bills as possible to accommodate the government's agenda. Where they are good, obviously we want to ensure that that is followed.

This was a bill introduced at the end of September by the Attorney to provide some extra protections under our law for vulnerable people, and largely that is children and vulnerable adults, as they are defined. The amendments relate to the offences of criminal liability being introduced for carers of children under 16 and vulnerable adults and the increasing of penalties. There is some clarification in relation to serious harm, which we think is necessary. We accept that as has been presented. In addition to that, there are some foreshadowed amendments, which I have had a brief look at this morning, and I thank the Attorney for bringing the matter to our attention. Essentially, they look in order. I will ask him to place on the record the reason for the amendments, and if there is any issue we undertake to let the government know before it is dealt with in the other place.

In relation to this bill, the government have outlined that there are a number of cases reported to police and the DPP over the last few years that have not been prosecuted or, indeed, have been withdrawn. The victims have not died, but, for example, they have had multiple broken legs, arms, ribs, etc., and healed quickly, particularly the children. Most of us understand the significance there—if you break a leg when you are 85, it is a pretty serious problem; when you break a leg when you are six, you might have a greenstick fracture and it may heal very quickly. The victims may miss out on being recognised through a prosecution process but, although they have had those serious injuries, they have not necessarily been protracted.

Child Protection Services in SA have also raised these concerns. We need to remedy it. We are here to assist in the swift passage of the legislation to do that. It is concerning to us that the government introduced this bill without any consultation, other than with its own advisers or departments; nevertheless, we accept that it needs to be remedied. If there are any matters that come to light, as I have indicated, we will follow them up between the houses.