Page 4809 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 1 November 2017

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MRS JONES: Minister, why did you not advise the Assembly about the flammable cladding on ACT Health buildings when you made a ministerial statement on 26 October rather than leaving it to the minister for planning?

MS FITZHARRIS: Because I was aware that the minister for planning was tabling information requested by the Assembly on the following day outlining the whole-of-government effort on progress on the whole-of-government audit. I certainly know I could have spoken, as all ministers could have, at much greater length in their statements of one year achievements, but, of course, we are time restricted in this place.

Children and young people—reportable conduct scheme

MS CHEYNE: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, could you please provide an update to the Assembly on the progress of the reportable conduct scheme?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Cheyne for the question. I am pleased to advise members of the successful commencement of the reportable conduct scheme, which commenced operation on 1 July. The scheme ensures that organisations that provide care to children respond appropriately to allegations or suspicions of abuse by their employees and volunteers. It also supports organisations to develop and operate policies and practices that promote child safety. The core of the scheme is structured to help prevent vile attacks on children like those that we have heard about through the royal commission.

Organisations captured by the scheme will no longer be able to sweep child abuse allegations under the carpet. The scheme has been very well received by the Canberra community. Over 750 people from the child service sector attended 31 information sessions run by the ACT Ombudsman in the lead-up to the commencement. The ACT Ombudsman runs the scheme. The Ombudsman’s independence ensures that organisations are compelled to examine and respond to employee behaviour.

Allegations of reportable conduct have already been made and are being examined. Whilst I emphasise these are just allegations at this stage, it shows the immediate impact of the scheme. We will keep reviewing and improving the effectiveness of the scheme and that is why we are shortly introducing a bill to make some technical amendments to improve information-sharing about child safety.

MS CHEYNE: Chief Minister, what is the role of the ACT government in developing a nationally consistent scheme?

MR BARR: I have taken a proposal to harmonise reportable conduct schemes across the country to the Council of Australian Governments, and COAG fully supported the ACT’s push to close potential gaps across jurisdictions. This is a big step forward for child safety and protection in our country. It has as its origins the work and advocacy of child protection advocate Damian De Marco.

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