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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 6 Hansard (9 June) . .

Page.. 1895..

Reportable Conduct and Information Sharing Legislation Amendment Bill 2016

Mr Barr, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Urban Renewal) (10.46): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Madam Speaker and Assembly colleagues, I am very pleased to present this bill to the Assembly this morning. It is a bill that helps address some of the wrongs of the past, but it will also protect children in the future. The evidence that has come to light through the course of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has rightly shocked us all. It is a fundamental duty of government and the community to protect children from this kind of abuse.

I would like to take the opportunity this morning to acknowledge Mr Damian De Marco, who is sitting in the public gallery with us today. I thank Damian, as the ACT local hero, for his tireless advocacy on this matter and for his very strong support of this scheme.

In February I announced that my government would look to implement a reportable conduct scheme, similar to the one that has been in place in New South Wales. Of course, child protection is a matter for all states and territories, and so at the most recent meeting of the Council of Australian Governments in April this year I proposed that that all states and territories, with the support of the commonwealth government, progress work to develop a nationally harmonised reportable conduct scheme arrangement. I was pleased that COAG agreed in principle that all states and territories would develop nationally harmonised reportable conduct schemes.

This bill addresses both of these commitments. It will put in place a reportable conduct scheme for the ACT, which will improve the oversight of investigations of employee misconduct involving children. This will ensure that allegations of abuse, neglect or sexual misconduct are properly reported, are properly investigated, and that appropriate action is taken.

I have no doubt there is very strong community support for this scheme. During the consultation we undertook earlier this year we received submissions from stakeholders representing a variety of sectors: from the education sector, the out of home care sector and health sector as well as unions, private citizens, and a range of public figures. They attended public forums as well as private meetings, and the message the government received was very clear: people wanted to contribute to when and how this scheme would be introduced.

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