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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 August 2005) . . Page.. 3085 ..

Human Rights Commission (Children and Young People Commissioner) Amendment Bill 2005

[Cognate Bill:

Public Advocate Bill 2005]

Debate resumed from 30 June, on motion by Ms Gallagher:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: I understand it is the wish of the Assembly to debate this bill cognately with executive business order of the day No. 4, Public Advocate Bill 2005. That being the case, I remind members in debating order of the day No. 3 executive business, they may also address their remarks to order of the day No. 4 executive business.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.23): These bills form part of a suite of bills that emanated from the Review of Statutory Oversight and Community Advocacy Agencies conducted for the government by the Foundation for Effective Markets and Governance. The review examined the powers and functions of the Community and Health Services Complaints Commissioner, the Community and Health Rights Advisory Council, the Discrimination Commissioner, the Community Advocate, the ACT Ombudsman and official visitors in the areas of mental health, disability, child protection and youth justice.

The review offered a number of options but the government opted for the one, big corporatist model of expanding the human rights office so that a swag of commissioners, all with their independent functions, were co-located with shared services. Eventually the Ombudsman will also be part of the co-location and shared services. Official visitors in the areas of youth and mental health, and the co-coordinator of the management assessment panel, will also be located in this office. However, I have been advised that the government has still not worked out how to do that. As yet there are no provisions for the child death review panel. It appears as though work in that area is still in progress.

The Human Rights Commission Act sets out the structure for the new mega commission—an issue with which we dealt earlier. The Human Rights Commission (Children and Young People Commissioner) Amendment Bill establishes the position of children and young people commissioner, whose role is to hear complaints about systematic issues relating to services for children and young people and their carers, which appears to cover quite a number of people. In the recent budget there is provision for an amount of $1.5 million to be allocated over four years to establish the position of children and young people commissioner.

The bill makes some minor amendments to the disability services definitions—amendments that appear to have been bunged in as an afterthought and that should have been incorporated into the principal act. The opposition opposes this bill and the cognate bill for the reasons I gave earlier in debate on the Human Rights Commission Bill. We believe that the children and young people commissioner would be more aptly named commissioner for the family. We are opposed to the establishment of a human rights commission and all its accoutrements.

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