Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 7 August 2008) . . Page.. 3120 ..
• Can the Minister advise what has been the impact of removing this status to a child or young person to their human rights, and care and protection needs including their rights to due process and competent legal advocacy; if not, why not.
Mr Corbell: The questions of the Member for Molonglo are directed to the Minister for Children and Young People and relate to the provisions of the Public Advocate Act 2005. The Act comes under the responsibility of my portfolio. Hence, I am happy to provide the answer to the member’s question as follows:
• No, the legal status of children has not changed because of the amendment.
The amendments made in the Public Advocate Act 2005 were to clarify the Public Advocate’s functions that relate to children and young persons and the functions that relate to people with a disability.
This change has not eroded the special protections afforded to children. The Public Advocate operates as a Children's Guardian (a role that exists in other jurisdictions, which has special monitoring responsibilities for children and young people in Care, or in the Youth Justice system), and thereby affords special protection to this particular group of children in the ACT. In addition, the ACT is now served by a Children and Young People Commissioner, appointed under the Human Rights Commission Act 2005, who is responsible for ensuring that the rights of all children and young people in the ACT are upheld.
The Human Rights Act 2004 also upholds protection of the child. This right ensures that minors are entitled to special protection in recognition of their vulnerability because of their status as a child. The rights of the child are elaborated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which deals with the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of children in more detail. While recognising the importance of the family unit and the primary responsibility of parents for the development and welfare of the child, it is recognised that in certain circumstances the best interests of the child may require state intervention.
• The amendments do not change the legal status of children as having a legal disability under Territory law.
(Question No 2059)
Mrs Burke asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, upon notice, on 6 May 2008 (redirected to the Attorney-General):
• Have written guidelines for the investigation of sexual offences been developed and applied in ACT Policing; if so, how have these been applied and monitored by the ACT; if not, when will such guidelines be produced;
• How are these guidelines shared within the knowledge of inter-agencies integral to child protection in the ACT community;
• Has a code of practice, such that might be modeled on the Victoria code of practice for the Investigation of sexual assault, been developed by the Sexual Assault and Child