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    "What Simon Birmingham has been doing is absolutely fantastic. He has managed to un-mesh the terrible omelette that was created by the Gillard government, the Rudd government in terms of funding; he's undoing all that." 

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    « Another week down | Main | Pauline Wright »
    Monday
    May152017

    Late, final, extra

    May 9 to May 15 ... End to domestic violence victims being cross-examined by alleged perpetrators ... Animal welfare group balk at ban "in name only" on animal cosmetic testing ... Triggs criticises 457 visa cuts and other visa cancellations ... Victorian legislation ensures teenagers' consensual sexting doesn't automatically create an entry on the sex offenders' register ... Week@TheKnees with Sohini Mehta 

    HEEDING the concerns of domestic violence victims and advocates, Attorney General George Brandis announced in Tuesday's budget (May 9) amendments to the Family Law Act to prevent domestic abuse survivors being cross-examined in court by self-represented abusers.

    Former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty hailed the reforms as "a huge victory" for survivors. Earlier this year, domestic violence survivor Angela Zena Hadchiti described the experience of being cross-examined by her ex-husband as "reliving a nightmare".

    Advocates also welcomed the $10.7 million injection over four years for extra family law "consultants" and $3.4 million over two years to continue trialling domestic violence units in legal centres. 

    Terri Butler, the Labor spokesperson for child safety and prevention of family violence, said the reforms are "inadequate" as the situation of unrepresented litigants remains unresolved given the inadequate funding in place for legal aid lawyers.

    *   *   *

    Others were similarly dismayed when the legal minutiae of Coalition promises were elucidated in the budget papers. 

    In the lead-up to the last federal election, the Coalition proposed a ban on cosmetic products tested on animals. Animal welfare group PETA said it's "disappointed" by the delay that has and will be incurred in implementing the ban. It's expected to come into force in 2019, at the earliest. 

    The Australian spokesperson for Humane Society International, Nicola Beynon, said she was concerned the new laws would "only apply to ingredients that are exclusively used for cosmetics". 

    Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said the proposed new law would be a ban "in name only":

    "We need to go to the issue of the ingredients. What the industry does is import animal-tested products and ingredients. And that's what we need to tackle."

    Rhiannon is also dubious about the legislation's reliance on voluntary industry codes of practice. 

    The federal assistant Minister for Health Dr David Gillespie, who is responsible for implementing the plan, said: 

    "We can't uninvent the thousands and thousands of chemicals over the last 40-50 years that are already on the register. This is a prospective going forward ban. In the legislative world this is actually happening very quickly."

    *   *   *

    Outgoing human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs has attempted to slip under the Oz's radar as its writers lament Malcolm Turnbull's big-spending budget and forgotten values to argue that the 457 visa cull and increased visa cancellations are being carried out on "racist grounds". 

    Discussing the ethical obligations of physicians at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians on Tuesday (May 9), Triggs spoke of immigration detention centres are increasingly populated with individuals who've had their visas cancelled on character grounds, possibly attributable to an "environment of nationalism, jingoism and populism ... increasingly based on some form of Islamic fear". 

    Triggs praised medical professionals who lend a credible voice to debates centring on asylum seekers and standards of healthcare in offshore detention, as well as students of medicine who may unexpectedly find themselves "as people who will be standing up in the media to draw attention to major social issues".

    *   *   *

    Victorian police minister Lisa Neville announced on Thursday (May 11) the Sex Offenders Registration Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2017 which will waive automatic registration as a sex offender if a court is satisfied there is no ongoing threat to the community.

    The proposed changes will apply to cases involving 18 and 19-year-olds who were sentenced under strict child abuse material laws over consensual sexual relationships with teens a few years younger than them. 

    The current legislation criminalises the possession of sexually explicit images or videos of anyone under the age of 18 by anyone aged 18 or older and automatically places the latter group on the sex offenders' register for a minimum of eight years.

    Legal Aid Victoria's executive director of criminal law, Helen Fatouros, said appearing on the sex offenders' register had a "profound and substantial impact on a person's life" and automatic registration produced "unfair outcomes".

    Two days prior to Neville's announcement, an analysis carried out by the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council (QSAC) found nearly 1,500 children have been found guilty of child exploitation material offences in Queensland in the past decade, prompting police to ditch punitive practices and formally adopt an educative approach to teenage sexting. 

    Under Queensland law, children under 17 can be found guilty of child exploitation material related crimes, but many young people are unaware of this criminal offence. 

    Some 1,498 of 3,035 dealt with by the criminal justice system in Queensland for child exploitation material in the 10 years preceding 30 June 2016 were under 17. 

    The stats point to an increase in young people sexting images: 331 young offenders were cautioned or conferenced during 2015-16 for child exploitation material, as compared to 28 in 2006-07.

     "Culturally these days it's not uncommon for adolescents to engage in courtship rituals that involve sending nude photographs of themselves," explained Helen Watkins, a member of QSAC.

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