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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 555 ..

consistency between protections in the ACT and other jurisdictions. Our Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011 requires people who work, volunteer or who have conduct with children and vulnerable people in regulated activities to have a background check and risk assessment to be registered under the Working with Vulnerable People Scheme.

In 2020 we amended that act to increase our ability to restrict people who pose an unacceptable risk to vulnerable people, establish a process for ensuring that kinship carers are not automatically excluded from working with children or NDIS activities, introduce screening of NDIS workers, and improve information sharing between organisations.

It is important to note that the ACT government is continuing to work with all governments around the nation to progress recommendations which require national coordination or are initiatives being led by the commonwealth government. Representatives of all ACT government directorates are collaborating with interstate counterparts to deliver nationally consistent implementation of the royal commission’s recommendations as far as possible.

The ACT’s Intermediary Program is fully established. The program provides intermediaries to support children and other vulnerable witnesses to communicate evidence to police. The ACT now has a cohort of 13 fully trained intermediaries available seven days a week, including outside standard business hours. Intermediaries have been available to police since 31 January and have engaged in criminal matters before the court since March last year. In the first six months of the program ACT Policing engaged intermediaries on 58 occasions in relation to sexual assault and violent offence investigations. The age of Canberrans benefiting from intermediary assistance has so far ranged from four years to 92 years.

As part of our consultations on introducing an oversight scheme for child safe standards, my directorate approached Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in community, recreation and cultural sectors. We heard that bullying and racism are significant safety issues for children and young people and that failing to respond properly creates additional harm.

The ACT government is committed to building principles of self-determination into our child safe standards oversight scheme. We will work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to develop a common understanding of what child safe practice means in their communities, share ideas, and embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander concepts of safety into the scheme’s design and operation.

In 2019 we decided that the ACT Human Rights Commission would be the most appropriate agency to oversee the ACT’s child safe standards scheme. My directorate sought community views on the design of the scheme from November 2019 to February 2020. Overwhelmingly, Canberrans support oversight of child safe standards and feel that using the standards to protect and empower children and young people is important. We are now working on the details of the legislation and will consult further before introducing the scheme.

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