Government leaves family waiting

Question without notice

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (12:04):

My question is to the Attorney-General regarding the government’s commitment on multiple occasions to legislate the offence of non-fatal strangulation.

In 2019 the government promised to legislate this offence following the brutal murder of Joy Rowley. On February 22, this year, you reaffirmed that commitment to bringing legislation this year and noted that consultations were closing in on the final stages. At that time you suggested you would have an update for this chamber in the not-too-distant future.

One hundred and twenty-odd days is starting to feel a little distant for Ms Rowley’s family, who still acutely mourn the death of their mother. So, with only a small number of sitting weeks left, I ask if you have an update that you can provide not only to this chamber but most importantly to the family.

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:04):

I thank Ms Maxwell for her question and her ongoing interest in these important matters. As you would appreciate, there is a lot of reform that my office and the department are responsible for, and progressing non-fatal strangulation is certainly still on the agenda and still being progressed. I do not have a specific date for you, but I am absolutely more than happy to come and see you and give you an update in detail about the progress of the development of that legislation.

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (12:05):

Thank you, Attorney. I appreciate that. Attorney, on February 22, 2022, I brought to your attention the family being given the choice of a verbal or a written update. They requested information in writing, which is still yet to be received.

While the family understands that this is complex, they are still waiting and my staff have followed up numerous times since without success. Given this is proving frustrating for everyone, my question is: will you agree to meet with the family and give them a personal update and assurance of the government’s commitment to bringing legislation as promised for this offence?

Ms SYMES (12:06):

Ms Maxwell, I am more than happy to meet with the family. I certainly make myself available to particularly victims of crime who have issues within the justice system that they want to bring to my attention, particularly in relation to reform. It is a practice that I will continue to be committed to, so I am more than happy to meet with the family, and I will make those arrangements directly through the department with them.