Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 2 Hansard (25 February) . . Page.. 734..
MR BARR (continuing):
Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.
Bill agreed to.
Children and Young People Amendment Bill 2009 (No 2)
Debate resumed from 10 December 2009, on motion by Ms Burch:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (12.05): Mr Speaker, the Canberra Liberals will be supporting this bill, which amends the Children and Young People Act. The purpose of this bill is to provide interpretive clarity in two areas: the provision of temporary standard exemptions for childcare licensees and the information-sharing provisions under the Children and Young People Act.
The bill also makes a technical amendment that gives the act priority over other legislation when that legislation interacts with this act in relation to information secrecy and sharing provisions. In reading the act, it is important always to remember that its fundamental premise is to ensure its operations and that the decisions made under the act are in the best interests of the child or young person. In other words, the best interests of the ACT children and young people are paramount.
The amendments that this bill brings forward in relation to the temporary standard exemptions provide some flexibility for childcare licensees. There are two elements: the first is that the chief executive will be able to grant more than one exemption during the period of the licence, which is one year for new licensees and three years for established licensees. The second is that the chief executive will be able to determine the period of the exemption. The act requires the chief executive to consider a range of matters when coming to a decision to grant an exemption and to determine the period of exemption, all of which, again, keep the best interests of the children and young people as paramount.
The minister in her tabling speech gave the example, amongst others, of a childcare licensee that might need to go through one or more recruitment processes during the licence period. Currently, only one exemption can be given, which would create significant difficulties not only for the licensee but also for the children in the care of the licensee. This amendment provides the flexibility that would be needed in those circumstances. Indeed, this amendment is quite timely, which is unusual for this government.
As you know, Mr Speaker, the nation is moving towards the implementation of new standards for childcare. Childcare centres will have lower staff-to-child ratios from the beginning of 2012. Childcare centres will have to have higher qualification requirements for their workers also from 2012. Perhaps another example the minister might have given in her tabling speech is the possible need for childcare centres to seek licence exemptions to allow them to adjust to the new rules.