Page 2078 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2016

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

intervention for several months after a complaint has been received. This lengthy process is considered to leave occupants, neighbouring residents and the broader community exposed to a prolonged public health risk in addition to diminished urban amenity and community sentiment.

This bill will enable the Chief Health Officer to apply to the ACT Magistrates Court to consider issuing a subsequent abatement order to remedy an insanitary condition if it re-emerges as a public health risk within 12 months after an original order is issued.

In deciding whether or not to issue an abatement order, the ACT Magistrates Court has independent consideration to the alleged insanitary condition, actions taken by the property owner, and any government interventions. The Chief Health Officer will also independently review any decision to apply for an abatement order from the ACT Magistrates Court in consultation with relevant government and non-government agencies.

The bill will enhance regulatory transparency associated with the management of insanitary conditions by allowing the minister to determine a code of practice for the Chief Health Officer in dealing with insanitary conditions caused by hoarding-like behaviour or domestic squalor. This will ensure that the Chief Health Officer, in undertaking any public health intervention relating to insanitary conditions resulting from hoarding-like behaviours or domestic squalor, must consider human rights and social implications resulting from such a decision.

The code of practice will ensure that abatement orders will continue to be used only as a measure of last resort and when in the public interest. The code of practice will also include an internal review process, whereby a complainant may request an ACT Health review of the decision to implement an abatement notice or abatement order.

To ensure that government responses to insanitary conditions continue to be conducted in the best interests of the public and the property owner or occupier, the ACT government has established an intergovernmental working group to provide operational advice on the management of hoarding and squalor, including the use and implementation of abatement notices and abatement orders. This group includes representation from all relevant areas of government and non-government organisations, such as ACT Housing, ACT Fire & Rescue, ACT Mental Health and Access Canberra.

While residential insanitary conditions only impact a small number of people, they can present a significant public health and community issue. I should reiterate that the measures outlined in this bill will not eliminate the occurrence of insanitary conditions in the ACT. However they will improve ACT Health’s ability to better manage the public health impacts of hoarding-like behaviours in line with best practice methods in other states and territories.

The ACT government is committed to ensuring a best-practice approach is taken to manage cases of insanitary conditions in residential areas and will continue to facilitate a multi-agency approach. All relevant government agencies and non-government organisations will continue to provide operational advice on

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