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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 25 October 2011) . . Page.. 4930 ..


Working with Vulnerable People (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011

Debate resumed from 22 September, 2011, on motion by Ms Burch:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.14): The opposition will be supporting this bill which makes a series of amendments to the Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2010. These amendments are in response to the feedback from the scrutiny committee, the community consultation process and from a review of the legislation by the JACS and Community Services directorates. I will not go through all the amendments but will highlight a few.

Arising from the comments of the scrutiny committee, amendments are being made to allow voluntary surrendering of registrations, a review mechanism for negative notices or conditional registrations and the removal, most sensibly and most welcome, of imprisonment as a punishment for strict liability offences, because such an approach offends all the guidelines in the ACT for the writing of legislation. These amendments are sensible and I particularly commend the amendment to remove imprisonment.

Amendments that responded to the community consultation process include a provision that enables kinship carers, if not registered at the time of an emergency placement, to be deemed as registered pending an application process. I do hope, however, that in fact there is checking of kinship carers because it is still reported to me that there are kinship carers who believe that they have not had the appropriate checking.

I have asked a number of times whether someone could have had a background check and not known that they have been background checked and I have been told that it is not possible. I have grandparents who say that they have never had a background check and they worry about the implications that that might have not only for their children but for other children who are in kinship care.

It will be an improvement in the situation such as we dealt with last week when the Community Services Directorate was found to be making placements to organisations that were not authorised as a suitable entity and then failing to follow up on those placements and taking the organisation through an approval process. I hope that the Community Services Directorate has learnt something from this and we will not see a repeat of it.

Another amendment arising from the community consultation is a legislative review timetable. Instead of only being reviewed after five years, the legislation will be reviewed after three and then another review will be conducted after seven years of operation.

Yet another amendment will allow persons holding conditional registration to ask for a review of those conditions. Amendments that have been identified by the JACS and


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