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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . .

Page.. 1301..


Mrs Dunne also commented at that time, in 2011, on the prescriptive nature of the committee membership provision in the original bill. It is good to see that, through this bill being debated today, the ACT government is making the committee membership provision less prescriptive than the current provision in the act. Hopefully, this will enable the committee to function more efficiently and effectively. Mrs Dunne said in 2011:

The Canberra Liberals will support this amendment, which replaces a very prescriptive committee membership which was in the original bill.

She went on to talk about some other changes that she thought could have been made at that time but were not made.

Once again, I say that it is good to see that changes are being made that will enable the committee to operate more effectively. We will be supporting this bill today in that it should enable the committee to function in a more efficient manner.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.40): My former colleague Meredith Hunter was key in successfully creating the laws which established the Children and Young People Death Review Committee for the ACT, which is the matter before us today. I know Ms Hunter and the ACT Greens worked hard to achieve this in the Assembly, and I would like to acknowledge that it is as a result of her persistence and dedication to this important issue that we are here debating this bill today.

At the time, in March 2011, the ACT was one of only two Australian jurisdictions without such a service. The legislation was designed to look at trends and systemic causes which contribute to the deaths of children and young people in the territory and aimed to identify strengths and weaknesses in systemic responses to child deaths and actions that can be taken to avoid similar deaths.

The review committee is different from a coroner in that it looks at how we can respond to prevent deaths of children and young people in the future, not just at what has been the cause of death. The committee provides the ACT with a comprehensive review system that will identify strengths and weaknesses in system and community responses for the benefit of future prevention and action.

As Ms Hunter said at the time, child death review teams do not aim to determine the culpability of alleged offenders or comment on the individual performance of people, nor do they investigate the causes of child deaths; that role is left to the police and the coroner. It is therefore vital that the make-up of the committee be reflective of the skills needed to work through these very difficult, confronting and complex cases. The exhaustive list provided in this amendment bill remains true to the original intent of the bill that saw its creation, in that the skills required to undertake this work are maintained and, in fact, broadened.

The only comment I would make on this section relates to the ongoing need to ensure that specific and identified expertise and targeted membership be considered a high priority. As an example, it is welcome that a designated police officer is still kept as a


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