Page 2123 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 June 2015

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In simple terms, this bill seeks agreement for changes to implement a regulatory mechanism that will instil confidence in our community that services are being provided by fit and proper people and their organisations, and that prescribed standards are being met.

I would like to talk now about how the bill will ensure that services and supports provided by the non-government sector for our vulnerable children and young people are safe, effective, efficient, equitable and sustainable. I will also present a little background to the current situation and what the bill seeks to achieve.

The Children and Young People Act 2008 already has a number of provisions around the assessment and registration of individuals and organisations known as suitable entities who wish to provide services in the out-of-home care sector. For example, the act makes provision for the Director-General of the Community Services Directorate to approach an organisation or an individual as being suitable for a purpose. This means that providers of foster care and residential care services must be approved as suitable to provide these services before they can be authorised to provide these under the act.

Organisations are assessed across a number of areas to determine their suitability. These cover consideration around the experience of an organisation, including the direct support for a child or young person, and background checks for criminal convictions. The act also provides for a register of suitable entities. It does not, however, provide mechanisms for a system of ongoing oversight and monitoring to ensure the ongoing suitability of those individuals or organisations that are registered. Furthermore, once an individual or organisation is approved, the act does not provide any authority to intervene other than to revoke the approval to be a suitable entity. This means there is no avenue for the director-general or their representative to intervene in low or medium-risk issues to prevent the issue escalating so as to present a significant risk in the delivery of services or supports.

An example of such a situation may be where an organisation has increasing financial instability that results in reduced quality or continuity of services. In such circumstances children and young people may be put in harm’s way because the government has no authority to raise and respond to issues early on, so that they do not go on to more serious consequences.

This bill seeks to remedy the limitations under the act, and I will outline these now. The bill will provide for a clear regulatory framework with the authority for oversight and graduated intervention powers that are proportionate to each risk.

These changes will introduce a framework of regulation for care and protection organisations that defines the types of organisations that will be regulated by the service they provide, links the approval as a suitable entity to the requirement to maintain the approval and comply with standards, introduces the power for government to have oversight of approved entities for these purposes, introduces the power for government to intervene through graduated powers proportionate to an identified risk, introduces the requirement for approved suitable entities to have an approved person who is suitable for being responsible for the delivery of services in

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