Page 1348 - Week 04 - Thursday, 12 April 2018
The first is the reportable conduct scheme. I welcome the $615,000 in additional funding to allow the expansion of the reportable conduct scheme to include religious organisations. I called for this as an inclusion as soon as I became aware of the gap last year, and I am pleased that the government is preparing to implement the expansion from 1 July this year. It is important that all organisations and institutions working with children are child-safe and child-friendly and that any misconduct in relation to children can be appropriately reported and swiftly addressed. I hope the additional funds will improve the scheme’s capacity to do so.
Another key item I welcome is the $293,000 in funding this year to implement the redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions. I hope that the portion of this funding allocated to preparatory work will address some of the broader concerns raised by community stakeholders. These include the approach to a proposed direct personal response to victims, which is divisive amongst stakeholders, for example, a letter of apology. There is the need for broader access to free legal advice on claims against the scheme. Counselling is currently set as “for the life of the scheme”, but there are concerns that it is not for the life of the person instead, which is backed up by considerable research. There is the requirement to sign a waiver for “no further legal action”, including access to appeal in the Federal Court. And there is the fact that survivors are allowed to submit only one claim against the scheme. This raises issues if the victim was in multiple institutions and/or jurisdictions but not all of them have signed onto the scheme. The scheme needs to address what happens if additional institutions or jurisdictions sign up after the survivor’s one claim has been finalised.
I am very pleased to see that additional resources have been allocated to the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre to help meet increasing demands for its services this financial year. However, I hope that there also plans to enable ongoing recurrent funding for this important specialist organisation to continue beyond the end of June. The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre provides the only specialised sexual assault service in the ACT, and it is the only organisation that does this work on a daily—in fact, hourly—basis. The demand for counselling and other services provided by the centre is not going to lessen any time soon, as survivors will continue to come forward as a result of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. And, of course, there are the ongoing sexual abuse issues which we talked about yesterday in the debate on the consent legislation. We also know that it is not uncommon that survivors may need access to ongoing psychological and emotional support throughout their lives.
As you would expect, Madam Speaker, the Greens are particularly pleased about the funding available for the housing innovation fund. The things that make that up were all key items in the parliamentary agreement. This appropriation is for $1 million over two years. I see that there has been a call for grant applications already underway and that there are three areas being looked at here.
In relation to the “affordable rental” real estate agency, there clearly are a number of people in Canberra who have houses for rent for whom getting the maximum rental is not the only thing that they are concerned about. For some time, MARSS, Migrant