Page 581 - Week 02 - Thursday, 6 March 2008

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minimum standards. Parents of children cared for by a childcare service will be notified in the event that a childcare service proprietor does not comply with a standard. Parents and other community members will have better information about the quality of childcare services through the introduction of public reporting of compliance with standards. Administrative burden will be reduced for childcare service proprietors, who will no longer be required to hold an approval in principle prior to obtaining a childcare service licence.

In the area of employment law for children and young people, the bill balances the need to protect children and young people from the risk of harm in employment while preserving their right to engage in and benefit from employment. Key changes include new powers to make standards that protect all children and young people in employment and children and young people in work experience. There is also a new definition of light work, to ensure that children and young people under school leaving age can engage in and benefit from light work that is deemed by employers, within the meaning set out by the bill, to be in the child or young person’s best interests. There will also be a new power of the minister to declare an industry, occupation or activity to be high-risk employment if it is likely to harm a child or young person’s health, safety, personal or social development.

Across the bill there are many general changes that will improve protections for children and young people. Children and young people who receive services regulated by the act will have greater safeguards. There is an expanded suitability test for people providing services or exercising functions under the act. It will, importantly, consider information about the conviction or finding of guilt of a person for a sexual offence, an offence involving violence or an offence against an animal.

People subject to the suitability test will have a new ongoing duty to report certain changes to suitability information. Children, young people and their families will also have more opportunities to participate in planning and decision-making processes under the act. The family group conferencing model has been expanded to facilitate the wellbeing and interests of a child or young person who is subject to care and protection or youth justice interventions. There are also new consultation requirements for the chief executive in relation to annual review reports. Children and young people subject to actions under the act who participate in certain research projects will be protected by new research standards, which researchers must comply with.

Finally, a new information sharing and protection framework will enable more effective and timely support to children, young people and their families. This will be achieved by improving information sharing between key agencies and professionals, while protecting the privacy of the individuals concerned. The framework includes new powers for members of a child or young person’s care team to share information with each other.

Today, I have only highlighted some of the key policy changes proposed by this bill. However, they make clear the bill’s significant scope and the high degree of work that has been required over a number of years to deliver this important legislation. Given the large size of the bill—I understand it may be the largest bill introduced into the

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