Page 5484 - Week 14 - Thursday, 30 November 2017

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My hope is that the consultation process underway through the discussion paper on extending the scope of the scheme in the ACT to help organisations become more child safe and child friendly will also provide the ACT government with strong feedback to include children and young people’s residential camps; youth organisations; charity services; sporting and recreational facilities; talent, photography and beauty competitions; babysitting services; transport services; and children’s entertainment and party services.

One glaring omission, in my opinion, is vulnerable adults such as those with a disability. Women with intellectual disability experience sexual abuse at a disproportionally high rate. Some research suggests that it is as high as 90 per cent. Think about that. That is almost every single one of them. The rate of sexual abuse against men with intellectual disability is also disproportionately high, with other research suggesting that it is as high as 60 per cent. That is more than one in two. If the reportable conduct scheme cannot be extended to cover these groups, then I recommend that the government examine what other robust protections for these vulnerable adults can be introduced.

Going back to the current amendment bill before this Assembly, I again indicate my support for it, as there must be the ability to share relevant information between the Ombudsman’s office, child protection, the police, the Human Rights Commission and the directors-general of relevant directorates. And there must be an obligation for designated entities to ensure that they have well-prepared policies and procedures to deal with allegations of misconduct of this nature. Being able to investigate and respond to such allegations is a way of ensuring that we are doing everything we can to protect Canberra’s children and young people from harm.

MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (6.35), in reply: I thank members for their contributions and support for the bill. The purpose of the bill is to further support the operation of the reportable conduct scheme in relation to information sharing and promotion of child safety. The amendments contained within the bill will help support reportable conduct information sharing amongst entities with responsibility for the care and wellbeing of children and young people. Improving information sharing for child protection was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The amendments in this bill represent an important step in addressing this recommendation.

The government is determining what resources we will provide to the Ombudsman to implement the scheme in the medium to long term. We have provided funding to ensure that the Ombudsman is able to prepare to expand the scope of the scheme to cover all activities undertaken by religious institutions by 1 July 2018, and to meet all the requirements of administering the scheme. The extension of the scheme to include these organisations is an issue actively being investigated by my directorate, and we are consulting with the community on how best to manage this process. A discussion paper was released earlier this month. We welcome submissions before 26 January next year.

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