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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 July 2008) . . Page.. 2492 ..

held accountable for their actions. And it must be demonstrated to them that, if they continue with a life of crime, things will get worse and worse for them.

I am glad to see that the bill provides for a range of matters to be taken into account in sentencing young offenders, including recidivism. I am also glad to see that the courts are granted the power to impose good behaviour orders, including conditions such as education conditions, accommodation conditions and rehabilitation conditions. The bill also makes clear that juvenile offenders should not be put in custody with adults, and I am very glad that this is spelled out clearly in the bill.

I will be supporting this bill. While I have some concerns about how it is applied I think that, so long as the government is sensible in its application, the bill will assist in matters relating to children and young people. I will, however, be introducing an amendment to the offence provision in section 740 which I will speak about shortly.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (4.16): It is a pleasure to be speaking to this very significant bill today. Whilst this bill deals with a whole range of matters, I think all of us in the community are conscious, particularly at the moment, of the real issues that exist in relation to the care and protection of young children in our community, not just in Canberra but nationally. It is disturbing, to say the least, I think for parents, in particular, to be seeing the news reports that we have been seeing in recent weeks and months—the cases of neglect and alleged neglect of young children in particular.

We know that the best protection for young children is a loving family. It is only when those families, for whatever reason, fall down in their protection of those children or their care of these children that the state is forced to step in. It is always in less than ideal circumstances that that occurs.

We in the opposition certainly acknowledge the real challenges that are faced by the care and protection workers in stepping in in those circumstances, because there simply is too much of that. It simply should not be the case that the state has to step in as much as it does. But unfortunately that is the scenario that we are faced with every day, it would seem, both in the ACT and around the country.

The Children and Young People Bill 2008, once enacted, will become the primary law in the ACT which provides for the protection, care and wellbeing of children and young people in the Australian Capital Territory. The bill addresses a range of areas that impact on the lives of children and young people and how we all interact with children and young people in the territory, such as children and young people using childcare services, children and young people in employment, children and young people involved in the criminal justice system, and children and young people for whom there are care and protection concerns.

The bill, once enacted, will be the largest of its kind in the history of self-government and, by implication, we certainly do hope in that circumstance that lumping a number of different issues together into the one act does not end up causing more complexity than we would like.

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