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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 3 December 2020) . . Page.. 162 ..


insurance and other protections for clients; and implementing a residential building dispute resolution scheme. Also contained within the parliamentary and governing agreement is a commitment to a range of other items, including a licensing scheme for property developers; establishing a team of building certifiers within the ACT public service; and introducing a registration scheme for engineers in the building sector in this term of government.

Children and young people—child protection

MRS KIKKERT: My question is to the Minister for Families and Community Services. Minister, ACT Labor and the Greens have committed to developing a charter of rights for parents and families involved with the care and protection system, but in February our Human Rights Commissioner stated that a lack of external merits review makes the territory’s child protection legislation incompatible with human rights laws. Will the ACT government bring the Children and Young People Act fully into harmony with human rights laws before issuing this charter of rights and, if not, why not?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mrs Kikkert for the question. I do note that the Children and Young People Act 2008 was introduced after the Human Rights Act 2004 and that, at the time that it was introduced, it was found to be compatible with human rights. But things have moved on and we have recognised, including in the response to the Legislative Assembly inquiry into Child and Youth Protection Services, which will be tabled this afternoon, and in the comments I made when that report was delivered, that the current Children and Young People Act does need to be updated.

It would not make a lot of sense to, as Mrs Kikkert has suggested, make one lot of amendments to the act to make those changes in relation to external decision review, which we are doing currently quite a lot of work on, and then to come back and make another set of amendments to the act to introduce the charter of rights for parents and families. My expectation is that those two pieces of work will actually work in parallel and that when we bring back amendments to the Children and Young People Act we will bring all of those things together with a set of clear priorities, including priorities like ensuring that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child placement principle is more clearly articulated in the Children and Young People Act, which has clearly been a very significant concern in the Our Booris, Our Way review.

MRS KIKKERT: Minister, when will you bring the amendment to the children’s rights act?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I assume that Mrs Kikkert means the Children and Young People Act. We will do that work very carefully and very closely with the community. We will do that work as quickly as we can, but the Children and Young People Act is a very long and very complex piece of legislation and we have come to the conclusion that it will be better to do some significant work to look through that act rather than trying to make piecemeal changes.


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