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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 26 October 2017) . . Page.. 4476 ..

Working with vulnerable people—legislative review

Paper and statement by minister

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (3.33): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act, pursuant to subsection 70(1)—Legislative review.

I ask leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I am pleased to table the report of the first legislative review of the Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011. In tabling this review the government meets its legislative requirement to undertake and table a legislative review of the act following the midpoint of its implementation period. This first legislative review of the act provides an opportunity to examine and improve the effectiveness of the act and its administration through the working with vulnerable people scheme. The act aims to reduce the risk of harm or neglect to vulnerable people in the ACT. It requires those who work or volunteer with vulnerable people, including children, to have a background check and be registered under the scheme.

The exclusion of people with a known history of certain behaviour is a fundamental part of creating safe environments for vulnerable people. The premise of background checking under the act is that the past behaviour of an individual can provide an indication of the possible future behaviour of that individual. Examples or patterns of abusive or inappropriate behaviour can sometimes be evident in information available for assessment, which includes an individual’s criminal record. This information is used to undertake a risk assessment which informs whether an applicant can be registered under the scheme.

Since the commencement of the scheme in November 2012 there have been more than 140,000 registrations issued by Access Canberra with approximately 95,000 current registrations. This is more than double the initial forecast total of 42,000 registrations over the six-year implementation. Feedback and operational experience suggest that employers have adopted a blanket approach, requiring all employees and volunteers to register, regardless of their role in the organisation.

The comprehensive nature of this scheme makes it a key component of the suite of protective mechanisms put in place by the ACT government to protect children and vulnerable people. This scheme is in addition to the recently established reportable conduct scheme, fit and proper person checks, accreditation and registration.

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