Page 5655 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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Children and Young People Amendment Bill 2009 (No 2)

Ms Burch, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Women) (11.11): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to table before the Assembly the Children and Young People Amendment Bill 2009 (No 2), proposing amendments to the Children and Young People Act 2008.

The Children and Young People Act 2008 was passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly in July 2008 and implementation commenced in September 2008 and was completed by July 2009. During its implementation, issues have been identified that require clarification of interpretation and flexibility of application. The amendments focus on the provisions of temporary childcare exemptions and the information sharing and secrecy provisions.

The childcare provisions of the act provide the Chief Executive of the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services with regulatory powers in relation to childcare services in the territory. These regulatory powers include the granting of licences and the monitoring of compliance with the childcare service standards.

Childcare licences are granted to the family day care schemes, before and after school care programs, holiday programs and childcare centres. The ACT provides for the granting of temporary standard exemptions against one or more childcare service standards. Exemptions ensure operators of licensed childcare services are authorised to continue to provide a childcare service in the best interests of children in the ACT. All exemptions granted to licensees are instruments open to public scrutiny and notified on the ACT legislation register and on display within the service.

Currently a temporary standard exemption, against any single standard, may only be granted to a service on one occasion during the duration of a licence. Licences are usually granted for one year for new services and three years for established businesses. Additionally, the current provisions limit the granting of exemption extensions for up to 12 months.

These conditions may restrict the viability of childcare services in the ACT and impact on the provision of childcare offered to children and families. For example, a childcare centre seeks an exemption regarding an accommodation standard while refurbishments are underway. An exemption is provided for the planned duration of the refurbishment, usually six months, and can be extended to 12. Sometimes delays occur affecting the completion of the work. In accordance with the act, a further

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