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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 7 June 2018) . . Page.. 2187 ..


recommendations for criminal justice system legislative reform, inviting key stakeholders and the broader community to provide their views on those proposals.

As the Chief Minister stated in introducing this particular legislation, the difficult question of how to treat religious confession is complex, and it is currently part of a national conversation. The consideration of confession is an important one, and it is a discussion which must be had with community and with religious leaders.

Today’s debate, and the anticipated passing of this legislation, which it is important to do in this time frame, does not foreclose engagement with the archbishop or any other members of the Catholic Church, or with other religious bodies. I will be meeting with Archbishop Prowse to hear his views on this legislation’s treatment of religious confession as well as the broader implications of the royal commission recommendations. Those views will inform the government’s work on reportable conduct between now and March next year.

The revelations aired in the royal commission’s public hearing were shocking. Our community now expects religious organisations to prioritise children’s safety. They are trusted and respected institutions, and they have a key role, along with all of us, in protecting children.

Recognising the ACT’s leading role in reportable conduct as one of only three jurisdictions to have implemented the scheme, we also strongly support work that is occurring across jurisdictions to develop a nationally consistent approach to the question of how to treat religious confession. That is why we are actively engaged at a national level in addressing the issue of confessional privilege. That is why the provisions relating to the confessional will not commence at this stage. I will be heading from the chamber to the airport later today to fly to Perth for the next meeting of the Council of Attorneys-General. I look forward to speaking with other attorneys-general tomorrow about this and other national legal issues.

Reportable conduct is an important part of the government’s response to the royal commission, but it is not the only part relevant to religious institutions. We will keep working with this community to ensure that our children are safe and that the lessons of the royal commission are implemented.

In summary, this bill, which expands the scope of the reportable conduct scheme to include religious institutions, builds on the sound legislative foundation that protects the rights of the children and reflects this government’s, and this community’s, commitment to keeping children safe. Now is the right time. I commend the bill to the Assembly

MR STEEL: (Murrumbidgee) (12.00): I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Ombudsman Amendment Bill 2018, which expands the reportable conduct scheme to include religious organisations, in line with recommendations from the royal commission into child abuse in institutions. As has previously been stated, the work of the royal commission has been incredibly important and well respected, and the community has our assurance that the ACT government is committed to learning from


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