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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 4 Hansard (4 April) . . Page.. 1340 ..


The amendments to the act can be grouped under three main categories: improved information sharing, streamlining registration, and introducing disqualifying offences. As we move towards the national approach to worker screening agreed to in relation to both the NDIS and the royal commission, the imperative to share information is becoming greater. We will amend the act to ensure that if the Commissioner for Fair Trading has the reasonable belief that sharing information will prevent harm to a vulnerable person, the commissioner is able to share that information with the relevant parties.

All the amendments we are seeking to make in this bill are for the further protection of vulnerable people. It is not just about people in the ACT; with the introduction of the NDIS Quality Safeguards Commission and our participation in national screening we are helping to protect people across the country. We are part of a national approach to protecting vulnerable people, and these amendments will make our work to safeguard those people more effective.

We are introducing a specific NDIS activity to the list of activities that are regulated under the act. While the act already covers general disability services, we have added a specific activity related to working for an NDIS registered provider. Registration will require applicants to name their employer and meet the NDIS quality and safeguarding framework. This is to support the additional oversight required of the NDIS workforce as we continue to strengthen our local safety net with the information and resources of the rest of the country.

For Canberrans seeking to register under the working with vulnerable people scheme there will be little difference as they apply. We are working to make the processes as streamlined as possible. A person will complete the same application form and be subject to similar assessment processes as they are now. If a person is seeking to register for an NDIS activity there will be a few extra steps they will need to complete, like consent to share information and the mandatory inclusion of an NDIS registered employer. These are not onerous.

A major reform in this bill is the introduction of disqualifying offences under the NDIS quality and safeguarding framework. These offences are of a most serious nature and have been agreed through ongoing national discussion. These are the offences where the behaviours of a person in committing the offence demonstrate a level of risk to vulnerable people that warrants an automatic exclusion from participating in certain activities.

The bill intends that disqualifying offences specifically apply to people registering for work with an NDIS provider. For general registrations under the scheme the risk assessment processes that currently apply will continue. We know that the inclusion of these disqualifying offences whilst relating to participation in an NDIS activity only limit a person's right to work. This limitation is balanced against another person's right to be free from harm.

Ultimately the primary purpose of the working with vulnerable people background checking scheme is to reduce the risk of harm to vulnerable people in the ACT. We


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