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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3259 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

These amendments provide that, before making a decision, the decision-maker must consult with the primary carer of the protected person, unless such consultation would adversely affect the protected person's interest. A primary carer includes a family member or friend who is primarily responsible for providing support or care to a person.

I have consulted with the Community Advocate and Public Trustee, who also support the amendments. The provision is couched in terms so that the protected person's interest remains paramount. If there are any concerns by a decision-maker that consultation would not be in the interests of the protected person, then it is not mandatory. For example, there are cases where a carer may be violent and threaten the safety of the protected person and/or their guardian or manager as a result of decisions being made. Clearly, in such circumstances consulting the carer may put the protected person at greater risk, and the decision-maker is not compelled to do so.

The definition of primary carer would, in the majority of cases, be the main care giver, but it is also broad enough to include a person who provides support. This may be a relative, neighbour or a close friend who knows the protected person well. In cases where the primary care may be being provided on a commercial basis, for example, by a paid nurse or in a nursing home, it would be of assistance for the decision-maker to consult with the support provider instead. Persons with tenuous connections to the protected person could not claim to be a primary carer within the meaning of the provisions. In my view the amendments are consistent with the concepts and principles in the bill.

I will conclude by saying I thank the staff of the Justice and Community Safety Branch who today, with this bill and a few others, have been making some very quick amendments so that we can get through the program. I was particularly impressed yesterday by Mr Quinton and his staff in relation to the Crimes Amendment Bill for Mr Osborne. That was a particularly efficient operation. I commend the officers of the department who have dealt very expeditiously with a number of amendments to this bill and those previous bills.

MR RUGENDYKE (12.21): Having great regard for carers myself, I too will be supporting the amendments of Ms Tucker.

Amendments agreed to.

Remainder of bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 12.22 to 2.30 pm


MR SPEAKER: Before I call for questions without notice, I would like to recognise the presence in the gallery of year 6 students from the Trinity Christian School. Welcome to your Assembly.

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