Page 4478 - Week 12 - Thursday, 26 October 2017
employers and Access Canberra, strengthening compliance and monitoring, and risk assessment guidelines and definitions.
A key recommendation of the review is the extension of the registration period from three years to five years. Implemented in conjunction with increased compliance measures, this recommendation would maintain protections for vulnerable people while significantly reducing the regulatory and administrative burden on applicants, people registered under the scheme, employers and Access Canberra. This proposed change would make the scheme consistent with New South Wales and Victoria, which have recently extended their registration period for working with children checks to five years and will assist in the national work towards harmonisation of working with children check schemes, as recommended by the royal commission.
Throughout the drafting of amended legislation and development of an implementation plan to progress this recommendation, further work with Access Canberra will be required to examine the additional safeguards needed to underpin the extension of the registration period to five years. This work will also include ongoing discussions with ACT Policing, the Justice and Community Safety Directorate, the Human Rights Commission and the ACT law courts to examine the potential to achieve live monitoring safeguards.
The second major recommendation proposed in the legislative review is the introduction of disqualifying offences. This is a key measure aimed at increasing safeguards for the protection of vulnerable people by seeking to exclude people with relevant and serious criminal history from the scheme automatically. This recommendation will position the ACT well in relation to national harmonisation of working with children check schemes and provide a greater level of protection to vulnerable people. Importantly, the ACT government will continue to engage with the Human Rights Commission to examine the potential human rights implications and ensure that there are no unintended consequences from this recommendation.
It is important to acknowledge that Access Canberra, which has responsibility for the administration of the scheme, is a key stakeholder in relation to the recommendations contained in this legislative review. Access Canberra has agreed in principle to undertake an operational review of risk assessment and scheme guidelines subject to consideration as part of the 2018-19 budget process to ensure alignment of the scheme’s administration with the revised regulatory framework.
The remaining recommendations put forward in the legislative review are administrative and seek to improve the operational efficiency of the scheme, improve information-sharing within the ACT and with other jurisdictions and reduce regulatory burden on applicants and employers.
The act forms an important part of the government’s commitment to community safety by legislating to protect vulnerable people. We must continue to review and adapt our approaches to ensure we have the best measures in place to continue to protect children and vulnerable people from the risk of sexual, physical, emotional or financial harm or neglect.