Page 925 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 29 March 2011

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It is quite clear that there is a lot of work to be done before this bill can become a functioning, operational piece of legislation that is clearly understood in the community. There were clear indications from the government to members of the community sector that this bill would not be finalised until June; so my staff and I, and I understand Ms Bresnan, were quite surprised to see it being brought on here today. But it has been decided that because there is general agreement with the thrust of the bill we will agree to it in principle and then have the debate adjourned.

People working with, or wishing to work with, children or vulnerable adults will, as a result of this legislation, have to hold current registration with the statutory screening unit of the Office of Regulatory Services as a result of this bill. Registered people will be issued with a card authorising them to work in these fields. Registration, according to this legislation, will be current for three years unless the person’s eligibility changes.

This bill replaces the current checking arrangements across a range of regulated activity. As a result of this bill, registered people will be able to move between organisations and positions without having to repeat the registration process but affected organisations will have to validate the registration status of people as they move. Background checking requires the applicant’s consent and sensitive information will not be disclosed. Information is only considered if it passes the relevant test and information not tested in a court undergoes additional scrutiny.

Registration under this legislation may be general, conditional or position based. Unsuccessful applicants under this legislation can reapply for registration after three years or earlier if their circumstances change. There will be a review of the system after five years.

The explanatory statement notes that the bill was developed after extensive community consultation from 2008 to 2010 centred on a detailed discussion paper. The explanatory statement also seeks to address the extent to which this bill engages the Human Rights Act. The bill engages the Human Rights Act to a very considerable extent and the scrutiny of bills committee has commented on these matters as well. It is arguable that every adult citizen in the ACT would need to obtain registration if they were able to go about their daily lives. This seems like a fairly long bow, Mr Speaker, but if you really look into where this legislation goes, depending on how you define “vulnerable”, this will be the case.

The government says that some 42,000 people will require accreditation. When you look at the operation of the bill, I consider this grossly underestimates the number who will need registration. The government has based this on the Queensland scheme but the Queensland scheme that they seek to emulate and from where they have drawn their figures is only a children and young people check. It does not have the broad definition of vulnerable person.

There is a broad definition of vulnerable persons. The circumstances in which a person is regarded as being engaged in a regulated activity and in contact with a

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