Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 7 June 2018) . . Page.. 2182 ..
cases that could theoretically involve coercion or distress—realities that a number of stakeholders who spoke with me insisted they had seen too much of.
These amendments were rejected by this government. Then, just one year ago, I moved a motion in this Assembly calling upon the ACT government to recognise the importance of providing for external review of important child protection decisions—a recommendation made in the 2004 Vardon report endorsed by Legal Aid ACT and raised again with this government in the 2016 Glanfield inquiry.
My motivation to do this was because I am thoroughly dedicated to the protection of children, and external review has been identified as an important safeguard when it comes to the safety of young people who have been removed from their birth parents. After all, 36 per cent of survivors who contacted the royal commission reported having been abused whilst in various forms of out of home care. This was the single largest group of respondents.
In March this year, I moved another motion specifically calling upon the ACT government to work with nationally recognised and accredited organisations in order to provide all first-time parents and other primary caregivers with evaluated information packets that address child sexual abuse, including how to recognise offender tactics, potentially risky situations and warning signs, as well as how to helpfully respond to suspected abuse and actual discovery of abuse. I fully expect this government to keep its commitment to this motion, as it was passed, and I look forward to an update on what is happening in this space.
By themselves, these actions should show my unwavering commitment to the protection of children and young people. To them I could add the concerns I have raised on numerous occasions, both in this chamber and in numerous hearings, about how some of our most vulnerable kids are treated in our youth detention centre, including experiencing and witnessing violence. I could also add the concerns I have raised about kids who spent too long in care, the quality of our residential care system, the lack of adequate foster carers and so forth.
If this is all somehow not clear enough, let me clarify here and now that I have zero tolerance for the abuse of children, sexual or otherwise. That means that I have zero tolerance for those who would in any way shelter or protect those who abuse children or who would allow such abuse to continue when they might be in a position to stop it. There are no exceptions. This means that I and the Canberra Liberals fully endorse the recommendations of the royal commission and, as the opposition, we will be supporting this bill today in its entirety, including the clauses that deal with religious confession.
At the same time I feel obligated to acknowledge that there are right-minded people who harbour concerns about aspects of this proposed legislation. In making this acknowledgement, I put those opposite on notice. On this issue, concern with how a legislative instrument has been drafted does not imply in any way a lesser commitment to the protection of children. Any attempt to make such a point will correctly be seen by those both inside and outside this place as a reprehensible and inexcusable political move.