Page 58 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 15 February 2011

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Additional amendments will also establish a legislative basis for a local hospital network for the ACT. As well as setting a definition of the ACT local hospital network, an ACT local hospital network council is to be established and a process provided for the appointment of its members, its generic composition, and its general role and function.

Implementation of national agreements will be continued by introduction of the Work, Health and Safety Bill 2011. This will harmonise the ACT’s occupational health and safety laws with what will be in place in other jurisdictions around Australia. The passage of the bill and the associated regulations to be introduced throughout 2011 is another step in this government’s commitment to the seamless national economy strategy agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments.

Nationally consistent legislation on this matter will have a positive social impact. The legislation will retain essential protections for employees and the community embodied in the current ACT legislation while simplifying the national effort overall of complying with work health and safety obligations. The harmonisation process will lead to a reduction in the cost of compliance, with the primary beneficiaries being those industries and businesses that operate within multiple jurisdictions, such as between Canberra and New South Wales.

A new Education and Care Services Law Bill will enable the ACT government to implement the national quality agenda for early childhood education and care from 1 January 2012 in long day care, family day care, preschool and outside-school-hours care services. It will replace existing separate licensing and quality assurance processes as part of the national quality agenda for early childhood education and care. The government is committed to delivering the vision of the early childhood development strategy endorsed by COAG in July 2009.

Amendments are also to be made to the Gas Safety Act 2000 and the Gas Safety Regulation 2001 to bring the legislation up to date with changes that have occurred nationally on gas safety matters and to improve the appliance approval schemes.

Vulnerable people are to receive increased protection. A Working with Vulnerable People (Consequential Amendments) Bill will affect a range of transitional and consequential amendments to facilitate the implementation of the Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Bill 2010 when passed by the Assembly. This legislation fulfils the government’s commitment to establish a centralised background checking system for those working with vulnerable people in the ACT that was announced in the Canberra plan 2008, towards our second century.

The ACT will require persons working with children and vulnerable people to be checked for criminal and other offences. Under the system the government will set the minimum checking standards and apply a consistent risk assessment framework and decision-making process. A screening unit in the Office of Regulatory Services, Department of Justice and Community Safety will be established to assess applications for registration with the successful applicants to be registered for three years. The checking system has been developed with reference to the ACT Human Rights Act 2004 and will include review and appeal mechanisms for applicants.

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