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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5224 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

had been sold or identifying the person who was the driver. This is consistent with section 37 of the act, which provides that these and other specified circumstances provide a defence. The onus of establishing that an offence was committed will still rest with the prosecuting authority. I commend this bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Cornwell ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Health Professionals Bill 2003

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by clerk.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.29): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Currently, there are 10 health professionals acts that directly regulate the practice of health professionals in the ACT. The legislative model used in the regulation of ACT health professionals is based on an approach first used in the early 1900s. The Health Professionals Bill 2003 is a consolidation of the existing health professional laws into one consolidated act. In consolidating the legislation the opportunity has been taken to review the legislation and to substantially enhance the regulatory approach. The objective in revising the legislation has been to improve the protection provided to the ACT community.

The review of the existing legislation and the development of the revised bill have been substantial undertakings. The review was commenced in 1999 under the previous government, and the review process has involved extensive consultation with stakeholders. In developing the bill the government has been keen to maintain those features of the existing legislation that work, including recognising the strengths inherent in professional participation in its own regulation through health professional boards.

We have, however, found support for proposals that health professional boards include community representation in all their activities. We have also required increased accountability and transparency in board decision making. Health boards will also be required to demonstrate consultation with the community as part of the development of professional standards. The legislation also clarifies aspects of health board activity relating to their construction and operation. Most contemporary views in health professional regulation endorse the fact that the health board activity should no longer place a primary focus on the entry qualification of applicants for registration.

Rather an equal focus is required on the continuing competence of those who are registered as health professionals. For this reason the bill proposes that the health boards increase their responsibility for monitoring and improving the continuing competence of registered health professionals. One of the major conclusions of the review of existing health professional legislation related to the inadequacy of current processes relating to the reporting of and inquiry into the standards of practice of registered health professionals.

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