Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 July 2008) . . Page.. 2503 ..
that this reporting could be added to the existing reports made to the Public Advocate, for 267s, for example. New South Wales’s reports to the Children’s Court must outline how the child participated, and I think the ACT should be following the same practice.
As I have mentioned previously, this legislation is still a work in progress, and I expect principles for participation to be extended in the future. For now, though, I ask for the Assembly’s support for this amendment.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for Women) (4.53): The government are happy to agree with this amendment. This is consistent with our commitment to allow and enable children and young people to participate in decisions that affect their lives. I thank Dr Foskey again for agreeing to the addition of “wherever possible”.
The only word of caution I would have here is that, when you are looking at services provided by and for the government, that does incorporate a wide range of services doing a wide range of things. I would certainly be mindful of that if we are to establish guidelines around how this is to be done and look at some of the processes that Dr Foskey has raised, so as not to make this turn into something that we cannot deliver upon just though the complexity of what that cause encompasses.
It is very important to have it there—I am happy that it has been strengthened by the Greens’ amendment—but I just want a bit of caution up-front in making sure that that happens all the time for every child regarding any decision that affects their life. You could take it to the nth degree. For example, if a community-based childcare centre determines not to have sandwiches on Wednesdays any more—children do not have be consulted about those sorts of decisions. I am just trying to think of a worst-case scenario that setting up a system like this could lead us to. So, with a little bit of caution, I am happy to agree to it.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for Women) (4.57): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 2 at page 2539]. I table a supplementary explanatory statement to the government’s amendments.
Clause 8 enshrines the best interests principle as the paramount consideration for persons making decisions or taking action under the act. This government amendment inserts a new clause to remove any doubt that a reference in this act to the best interests of a child or young person does not limit the application of this section. This amendment addresses comments made in the scrutiny of bills committee report No 53 that there should be a stronger indication in the bill that clause 8 operates to qualify every other provision in the bill.