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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 July 2008) . . Page.. 2523 ..


This is a litigious environment. I spoke to a childcare operator the other day who said that a little child had a block and hit one of the assistants, and she is now in litigation against the centre. It is a WorkCover case where she is saying she was emotionally distressed by that. That is an extraordinary example of what lengths people will go to over the most trivial matters in this day and age. Whilst the minister talks about lowering the threshold, I think it is a very sensible measure. I am disappointed the Liberal Party has not taken this on board in a serious way. By not accepting this amendment you put a lot more pressure on the industry and those working in it for potentially frivolous matters being brought forward. Anyone who knows anything about education, which Mrs Dunne and Dr Foskey do, and anyone who is a parent will know that there are scenarios where people will take the extreme course of action if there are provisions enabling them to do so.

I am going to stay with this amendment. I believe it is reasonable in terms of including the term “significant”. Any reaction from the child could reasonably be argued to be an emotional response. Children do react and people do raise their voices, and that is often for the wellbeing of the child. I have seen situations where my own children, when they were little, were in imminent danger. To alert children to stop doing something that could be injurious to them, such as approaching a radiator or racing ahead to cross a road, you do have to raise your voice and say, “Stop.” Sometimes just that direction brings an adverse or emotional response from the child. Surely no-one in this place in their right mind would say that if a childcare worker yelled while attempting to protect a child they should face a prison term if the child was upset by those events. The extreme basis of the minister’s amendment is silly. I know the amendment was made after we raised concerns about this provision, but, in my view, it still does not provide adequate protection for those working in the childcare industry.

Question put:

That Mr Mulcahy’s amendment be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 1

Noes 12

Mr Mulcahy

Mr Barr

Ms Gallagher

Mr Berry

Mr Gentleman

Mrs Burke

Ms MacDonald

Mr Corbell

Ms Porter

Mrs Dunne

Mr Smyth

Dr Foskey

Mr Stefaniak

Question so resolved in the negative.

Ms Gallagher’s amendment agreed to.

Clause 740, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 741 to 772, by leave, taken together and agreed to.


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