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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 529..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

a lot of work on this legislation, especially Garrett Purtill, who does all of the negotiating and behind the scenes manoeuvring. I thank him very much for all the work he has done on this bill.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (11.33): I thank the minister for her overview of the government's amendments. I do note with slight concern, but glad to see them on the table, that it has taken a considerable length of time to get to this point. I realise that been a lot of work has gone into them and I do thank the government for its work on the amendments relating to mandatory reporting.

Mr Speaker, I have talked with the government and had some assurances from the government in relation to amendment No 3, proposed new section 189A, relating to the Public Advocate being told about some incidents. The opposition has some concerns about the use of the word "some". I understand, having just spoken with the minister, that this may be a drafting matter. I understand that the government is kindly going to look into our concerns and perhaps change that word to "certain". That is pertinent as well in relation to the effect it will have on the changes in amendment No 4 and amendment No 6.

I would like to say that I welcome amendment No 5, which tightens the definition of child abuse appraisal information. Obviously, that was one of the key factors around the whole unfortunate situation in which we found ourselves a couple of years ago. Without more ado, I thank the government for its work and also thank the workers that are working hard to make sure that this act will be very strong and robust and one that, hopefully, will never see us go down the path that we went down a couple of years ago.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.35): I will be supporting the government's amendments because they all seem perfectly logical and reasonable to me. I thank the minister for her explanation just now, which was quite enlightening. Government amendment No 1 places an onus on the public servants who are aware of cases of abuse to take greater care in ensuring that the cases have already been reported before deciding that they are not required to report such cases. I think we need that to get a balance between minimising report duplication and making sure that cases of abuse are reported.

The amendment that relates to the Community Advocate's access to information has been, I believe, requested by the Community Advocate. Her office probably is feeling that it is being deluged by copies received of every single report that the chief executive receives and would prefer to focus on those cases where a child or young person suffers abuse at the hands of the authorised carer. I must respect the Community Advocate's judgment on this issue and consequently support the amendment. This is an interesting development as the previous Community Advocate, as we well know, did not get regular reports from the previous chief executive officer, but perhaps the reporting has been overdone since the time of the Vardon report, with the quite understandable caution that resulted from that, and it is time for the pendulum to swing back to an appropriate midpoint.

The government's seventh amendment, which makes changes to section 45, provides some extra provisions to ensure the Community Advocate's transition to the Public Advocate and exempts the government's school work experience programs from the act's employment requirements because these programs are already monitored under


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