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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 March 2011) . . Page.. 973 ..


example, there is no assessment of suitability against a specific position. Successful applicants are registered with the checking unit and may change positions or employers without being rechecked during the period of registration.

There is no mutual recognition of checking outcomes across jurisdictions. While there are similarities across all checking systems, there are also fundamental differences relating to the definition of “child-related work”, the scope of people subject to checking, the range of information considered as part of the assessment process, the duration of approval notices and the level of fees charged to undertake an assessment.

I take seriously the responsibility we have to provide protections to those who are considered vulnerable in our community. This bill is attempting to establish a statutory framework that provides for the checking of people’s backgrounds and a risk assessment of those who will be working or volunteering to work with children, young people or vulnerable adults in the ACT.

Within the bill there is reference to the Commissioner for Fair Trading developing risk assessment guidelines. I have been briefed on the draft guidelines and understand that they will be underpinned by a set of guiding principles. It has been important for the community, particularly those in the community sector, to see the final guidelines, as they are a critical component of how this centralised system will operate.

The guidelines in the bill clearly define that the paramount consideration is the wellbeing of vulnerable people and their protection from harm. There are a range of other principles, including the need for assessments to be conducted by properly trained and supported people. Risk assessment is required to be evidence based, where evidence exists, and in all situations risk assessment is required to be ethical and defensible.

The guidelines require—of course, these are still draft guidelines—that assessment and decision-making processes are to be efficient, timely and follow principles of natural justice and procedural fairness. The procedure of risk assessment is to be transparent, documented and consistently applied, is to ensure that applicants have adequate provisions for review and appeal against decisions, and is required to protect the privacy of people who make application for registration, which includes their sensitive and personal information, from inappropriate disclosure.

The ACT Greens support these principles. We support the development and the establishment of guidelines. But I have to say that, at the moment, we only have the draft guidelines, and that is one of the reasons, as my colleague Ms Bresnan put quite clearly before, why we are only debating this bill in principle today. It is essential that the final guidelines have been signed off before we debate the detail of this bill.

Looking at the risk assessment framework, it is used to determine the four registration types: general registration, conditional registration, role-based registration and a negative notice. We have a better opportunity to exclude and understand the risks associated with people who have a known history of inappropriate behaviour, and this bill seeks to establish a set of minimum and compulsory checking standards and will


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