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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 7 June 2018) . . Page.. 2185 ..


These repercussions can often lead to self-medication with the abuse of alcohol and/or other drugs, mental health issues, family breakdown, isolation and other self-harming behaviours. Sadly, one of the ways that abuse is most often discovered is when victims are picked up in the child protection system or youth justice system with one or more of these issues.

A clear example of this problem is sexualised behaviours. Yet from the age of 11, young people can be charged with sexual offences, noting, of course, that fortunately this very rarely, if ever, happens in the ACT. Many boys, but not of course all boys, who have been exposed to domestic violence are often found to exhibit problem sexualised behaviour. For girls exhibiting these behaviours, it is more likely to indicate exposure to sexual assault.

The current system does not adequately understand or deal with these behaviours. Experts in this area, such as the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, have identified that carers and staff in the out of home care system and other first responders, such as the police, need to develop a deeper understanding of these issues to avoid further victimisation and longer term adverse outcomes for these vulnerable young people.

On this note, I was very pleased to see funding for the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre in the budget. I reiterate the importance of appropriate resourcing for the community sector to do their work effectively and to reach out to and respond to children and young people when they need support.

In conclusion, this amendment bill is an important step to bring the ACTs legislation into line with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Most importantly, it helps improve our ability to keep children and young people safe from harm in the ACT. The Greens are happy to support the bill.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.52): I welcome the opportunity to speak in support of the Ombudsman Amendment Bill 2018. This bill responds to community concern about the safety of children in our organisations by expanding the scope of the reportable conduct scheme to include religious institutions. This expansion was much welcomed by religious organisations themselves, who last year advocated for the expansion

By way of introduction, as a person of Christian faith, I am very aware that I have an obligation to be mindful of my own potential biases. I have a responsibility to clearly separate those beliefs from my role as a minister of government and as an elected member of the Assembly. I am aware that I have to be very careful not to advocate for a public policy on the basis of the tenets of my own personal faith. So as I and this government consider this bill, we do so aware of religious practices and the balancing that is required under the Human Rights Act. But I am also aware that I cannot bring a particular bias in relation to any single expression of faith.


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