Page 972 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

future. They are politically active in their communities and are also lobbying the federal government, local governments and state governments on these issues. That is only a small number of young people out there who are engaged in these very important issues. Many of them are change agents in their own communities. We saw that recently in relation to Earth Hour. There was a lift-out in the Canberra Times where we saw three remarkable young Canberrans—a young girl from Ainslie primary school and two young men from Marist and Canberra Boys Grammar—who all—

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne): Order! The time for this matter of public importance has expired.

Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Bill 2010

Debate resumed.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (4.02): I thank the minister for bringing this bill to the Assembly. As we know and have discussed regularly in this place, the protection and wellbeing of our children and vulnerable people is of vital importance. We know that children and young people are inherently vulnerable because of their age, and they require extra protection from the community.

It is important to note at the outset that vulnerability is an imposed category that some vulnerable groups will challenge. While this needs to be acknowledged, it is generally held that “vulnerability” is used to refer to those individuals or groups who, due to age, ill health, infirmity, minority status or an otherwise disempowered position in society, may be open to exploitation, whether physical, emotional, sexual, financial or psychological.

All other Australian states and territories have established or are in the process of developing centralised checking systems for people working with children. Operational systems have been established in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and, most recently, the Northern Territory. A centralised checking system has also been introduced in the United Kingdom. However, the ACT is the first to include vulnerable adults within the one system.

It is my understanding that there are two types of systems in operation within Australia—position-based systems and registration-based systems. Position-based systems, such as that employed in New South Wales, assess the suitability of an applicant for a specific child-related position. The risk assessment process considers information concerning the history of the applicant as well as the specific risks inherent in a particular position. Applicants may only be approved to work in the specific position against which the assessment has taken place and must generally reappear for a check if moving to a new position or employer.

The second system in operation is a registration-based system, such as that in operation in Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and the UK, which assesses the suitability of an applicant to work in child-related employment more broadly. For

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video