News State New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian faces NSW Parliament for last time before election
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Gladys Berejiklian faces NSW Parliament for last time before election

nsw parliament gladys berejiklian
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Photo: AAP
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Premier Gladys Berejiklian has faced NSW Parliament for the last time before voters go to the polls in four months.

New laws were rushed through on Thursday, with changes to the state’s adoption laws debated into the evening.

Under the reforms, children in out-of-home care will be permanently adopted out unless they can return home within two years.

Labor and the Greens tried to block the bill, arguing the reforms would be detrimental to children and create another stolen generation of Aboriginal children.

Not-for-profit group AbSec – the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care Secretariat – collected more than 2200 signatures protesting against the bill, and community groups rallied outside Parliament in the lead-up to the debate.

The government says children benefit from a permanent home.

Earlier in the day, the Parliament cleared tougher penalties for online bullies that would see people jailed for up to five years.

Known as Dolly’s Law, the bill is named after 14-year-old Northern Territory teenager Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, who took her own life in January.

Her parents welcomed the tougher sentences.

“Following the death of Dolly earlier this year … we are pleased that NSW has strengthened the penalties associated with this behaviour,” her mother Kate Everett said in a statement.

The online bullying reforms are known as Dolly's Law.
The online bullying reforms are known as Dolly’s Law after Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett. Photo: Dolly’s Dream/ Facebook

Dolly’s father Tick said the new law was “an important signal to everyone using technology”.

Changes to apprehended domestic violence orders (ADVOs) also passed on Thursday.

It means courts could hand out indefinite orders in severe cases of domestic violence, and the default duration will be doubled from 12 months to two years.

The changes also introduce a new strangulation offence that will be easier to prosecute, and put abusers in jail for up to five years.

“Strangulation is a red flag for domestic violence homicide, so it is vital that perpetrators are charged with an offence that reflects the seriousness of this behaviour,” Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence Pru Goward said.

The offence is expected to be in use by the end of the year, while the ADVO changes will take effect by the middle of next year.

Other laws to pass the Parliament on the last sitting day of the year include an increase in penalties for people caught dumping asbestos, as well as reforms into the aged care sector.

A bill to protect firefighters passed the upper house on Thursday, but will need to go to the lower house for support for an amendment.

If passed, the laws will mean firefighters who get cancer will no longer need to prove it was contracted on the job for compensation claims.

Ms Berejiklian will go up against new Opposition Leader Michael Daley on Saturday, March 23.

Distressed readers should contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. 

Readers seeking help for domestic violence or sexual assault should contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

-with AAP