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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2697 ..

Questions without notice

Public liability insurance-park-care groups

MR QUINLAN: Yesterday Ms Tucker asked Mr Wood a question in relation to insurance. I have a more comprehensive answer. Given the opposition's involvement in insurance, I think it would be wise if I read it into Hansard, hopefully to avoid any further problems.

The previous insurance policy available via the ACT Insurance Authority, which provided cover for volunteers, lapsed on 30 June 2002, and the authority was unable to source an alternative policy. The authority had purchased this policy from the commercial insurance market and did not act as the insurer. The authority is not able, under its legislation, to directly insure parties other than territory employees. The volunteers policy was a policy negotiated by the authority that directly insured volunteers in the service of the territory.

The Civil Law (Wrongs) Bill 2000, introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 20 August 2002, seeks to protect volunteers from personal liability in the carrying out of community work for a community organisation. The liability will instead attach to the community organisation. While the bill gives protection to individuals, it will still be necessary for the organisation to carry public liability insurance.

To make public liability insurance more accessible and affordable for non-government service providers, the government has agreed to indemnify these organisations for losses above $5 million for each occurrence.

The authority has reinsurance protection in place to cover the liabilities arising from accidents of volunteers, but this is in excess of the first $5 million for any one claim. The authority is currently exploring options for a group insurance scheme through which community organisations would be able to access their own coverage for the first $5 million of any claim.

In the interim, an option is available to agencies whereby they may offer an indemnity to volunteers or community organisations and therefore assume the liability of those volunteers for claims of less than $5 million.

Whilst a decision to offer an indemnity lies with the agency, the authority may, by agreement, offer a counter-indemnity to the agency and thus protect the agency from financial consequences of an adverse event.

The government is also negotiating with insurers and the New South Wales government to allow inclusion of ACT community groups and sporting bodies in access to a group insurance scheme should one be established. Discussions to date have been promising but have yet to confirm an insurer or group of insurers to provide the cover.

The government has also agreed to the establishment of a risk advisory service primarily designed to assist community groups, sporting associations and small business to identify and manage their risks. This service should reduce the number and severity of claims and make the parties more attractive to potential insurers. The service is currently under

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