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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 140..

Public Advocate (Official Visitors) Amendment Bill 2012— exposure draft

Papers and statement by member

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella), by leave: I present the following papers:

Public Advocate (Official Visitors) Amendment Bill 2012—

Exposure draft.

Explanatory statement to the exposure draft, dated January 2012.

I seek leave to make a brief statement, noting some of the key proposals in the bill which are highlighted in the discussion paper which accompanies the exposure draft.

Leave granted.

MS BRESNAN: The key proposals of this bill, the Public Advocate (Official Visitors) Amendment Bill 2012, are to ensure the independence of official visitors by having them resourced and located within the Office of the Public Advocate rather than the current scenario where official visitors are resourced by the directorates they investigate and to ensure all official visitors address complaints in a manner that is considered to be best practice, by standardising for all official visitors the current requirement of the Official Visitor for Children and Young People, as set out in the Children and Young People Act 2008. This is one issue where we have received some feedback and I flag that it is something we are considering in what will be the final draft.

It will create two new categories of official visitors—an official visitor for people with disabilities and an official visitor for people experiencing homelessness. It will also ensure there is an official visitor for children and young people specifically and for children and young people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent and ensure there is an official visitor for corrections, especially for detainees of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. Currently these two areas are not guaranteed in legislation but through policy, and we feel we need to have those assurances that they are guaranteed.

It will expand the role of the official visitor for mental health by tasking that person with the oversight of people who are experiencing a mental illness and are under a community care restriction order and are in facilities run by non-government organisations, including step-up, step-down facilities or other places of long-term supported accommodation, and increase the level of certification and safety of disability accommodation places.

The Greens have already received a number of submissions on the exposure draft and have met with the Human Rights Commission, the Public Advocate and the current official visitors. We have also met with the government and have offered to discuss the bill with each of the relevant Liberal spokespeople. We look forward to having these discussions on the bill with both the Labor and Liberal parties and also continuing discussions with the community about this bill.

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