Page 2194 - Week 06 - Thursday, 7 June 2018

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targeted at child sexual abuse in an institutional context. It further recommended that the criminal offence of failure to report should apply in relation to knowledge gained or suspicions formed on the basis of information disclosed in or in connection with a religious confession.

It is important that we have a discussion with Canberrans to develop the most appropriate response and subsequent evaluation of its effectiveness, and the Attorney-General has already begun this in relation to our criminal laws through the your say website and the sexual assault reform program working group. This is even more important when dealing with complex problems and fundamental religious beliefs. The ACT is the first jurisdiction to open up the inclusion of religious confession in the scope of the scheme to rigorous public and professional debate.

There is, of course, much important work to be done before we can make a definitive decision regarding the treatment of religious confession in the reportable conduct scheme. That is why this bill excludes information disclosed in the course of religious confession until 31 March 2019, to give the public and key stakeholders time to inform this crucially important debate. As I have stated before, we need to have these local and national discussions. But the government was not prepared to delay expanding the scheme to religious organisations whilst this one issue is resolved.

As a government, we are strongly committed to protecting vulnerable Canberrans and to make the ACT the safest place to live, to work and to raise a family, and this commitment was demonstrated in this week’s budget with the allocation of $1.1 million over the next two years with a provision for future years to support and resource the ACT Ombudsman to undertake additional investigations and to further support the introduction of religious organisations into the scheme from 1 July 2018.

Furthermore, as part of the commonwealth redress scheme, the ACT government has allocated nearly $14 million to support eligible survivors of abuse in government institutions through a redress payment, counselling and psychological care, and a direct personal response. This bill takes the next step in keeping our children protected, and I commend it to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Amendment Bill 2018

Debate resumed from 10 May 2018, on motion by Ms Fitzharris:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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