Page 394 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 12 February 2013

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This city has a reputation as an inclusive and caring community. We respect each other’s human rights, we give a hand to those in need and we respect our city’s social and cultural diversity. The government is proposing a range of legislation to build upon this reputation.

We will be proposing better protection for prisoners or detainees from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, an official visitors scheme for the homeless and those with disabilities and formal recognition of sex and gender diversity in relation to births, deaths and marriages.

The adoption of a national system of regulation of community housing providers will benefit both tenants and investors, as well as preserve assets for future social housing, while the implementation of an election commitment will provide incentives for business to employ a recent school leaver with a disability.

The Monitoring Places of Detention (Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture) Bill 2013 will give effect to the ACT’s obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. This is a model bill that has been agreed by the Standing Council on Law and Justice and will ensure that the territory can continue to positively engage human rights—namely, the right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty.

The Community Housing Providers National Law (ACT) Bill 2013 will amend part 4A of the Housing Assistance Act 2007 and establish the community housing providers national law ACT. This will replace the current ACT regulation of affordable and community housing providers with a national regulatory system. Well-governed, well-managed and robust providers will assist in achieving the aims of the ACT’s affordable housing action plan and give confidence to potential investors, protect tenants and help preserve millions of dollars in assets for future social housing. It will also meet our commitments under the national affordable housing agreement.

This government is committed to build upon its strong reputation as a diverse and inclusive legislature via its response to the Law Reform Advisory Council’s Beyond the Binary report. As such, the government will be proposing amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 which will ensure the legal recognition of sex and gender diversity in the ACT.

The government will continue to support the disability and community services sector by making a number of amendments necessary to implement the new official visitors scheme. The bill will formally establish an official visitors board consisting of relevant statutory office holders and official visitors. The bill will also give the Disability and Community Services Commissioner the power to enter premises, which mirrors similar entry provisions in ombudsman legislation, to follow up reasonable concerns where an official visitor is not given entry to a visitable place. These amendments will provide an oversight mechanism for vulnerable people in the ACT whilst ensuring there are no negative human rights implications.

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