Page 2390 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 June 2013

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This mechanism will make things clearer and separate out the more subjective and discretionary elements that the guidelines-making power must also fulfil from the very black and white question of how often an official visitor must visit a visitable place. With regard to amendments 2, 3 and 4, these ensure that the official visitors are integrated with the broader oversight scheme so that we have in place a robust and coordinated scheme to protect these particularly vulnerable groups of people. These amendments clarify that official visitors can give their reports to the relevant commissioner of the Human Rights Commission if they believe that that is appropriate.

Further, the amendments also ensure that any official visitor can seek the assistance of either the Public Advocate or the relevant human rights commissioner in fulfilling their functions. As I said, it is important that oversight bodies can work together. We know that often the issues that come to the attention of the official visitors will also be relevant to the functions of the Human Rights Commission and the Public Advocate.

Amendments Nos 5 and 7 follow on from amendment No 1 and also help to clarify the powers that we are delegating to the minister. Currently the minister is required to list in the instrument all the visitable places that a visitor must visit. Considering the issue further, it is important that we respect the privacy of those living in these places. Given that at times these places will be, for example, disability group homes, it is not considered appropriate that we publish such a list. Instead, the amendment proposes that the minister be required to keep a register of visitable places for use by the official visitors and the official visitor board.

In addition, the amendment will require the minister to keep a register of visitable places and make the register available to the official visitors, and the official visitor board, rather than list all the visitable places, which will include disability group homes, in a publicly available instrument.

Amendment 6 adds to the functions of the board. Whilst I was initially sceptical about the utility of the board, as I said in the in-principle debate I agree that it can play a useful role in the scheme. My view is that if we are to create the board, the act should give them the additional explicit functions of monitoring the effectiveness of the official visitor, the official visitor scheme and promoting and enhancing community awareness of the role of official visitors. This is especially so given the other roles and calibre of the people on the board. This I believe will assist us in monitoring the operation of the scheme and ensuring that it is fulfilling its functions as well as possible.

With regard to the remaining amendments, these remove the requirement that visitable places must be funded by the territory in order to be considered visitable places. There is simply, I believe, no need for this requirement. Particularly I make that comment in regard to disability services where we know that disability care will significantly change the funding landscape.

The government has argued that there should be a link between the service and the territory—that is, funding. I do not agree that this is necessary. I think that would be

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