Page 378 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 19 February 2019

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MR WALL (Brindabella) (11.08): In the absence of Ms Lee this morning, I will address this bill on behalf of the opposition. The bill can be broken down into three major sections. I will address each of them in turn. The major motivation for most of these changes came from the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which has illustrated a number of possible weaknesses in the ACT’s regulatory framework which this bill seeks to address by amending the ACT Teacher Quality Institute Act and the Education Act.

With the Teacher Quality Institute, or TQI, there has always been a requirement for a teacher to have a valid working with vulnerable people card at the time of registration with the institute. The bill addresses a minor loophole by ensuring that a valid working with vulnerable people registration must be maintained through the term of their registration with the TQI and that the teacher must inform the TQI of any suspension or lapse of their working with vulnerable people registration.

It also clarifies that the TQI is able at any time to exercise its power to cancel the registration of a teacher who has contravened the conditions of their registration or becomes incapable of performing a requirement of their duty. The bill also introduces a further obligation for employers of teachers to inform the TQI if the employer has a reasonable belief that a teacher’s working with vulnerable people registration has been denied, has lapsed, or has had a condition applied to it.

The bill ensures greater communication of incidents with the TQI by allowing the institute to request information from an employer which may reasonably impact upon the institute’s decision to register a teacher. Should any notification event occur, including disciplinary action, formal investigations or an employer cancelling the teacher’s casual employment, the employer must inform the TQI.

The bill also amends the Education Act in two ways. It inserts a further provision for provisional registration, registration or renewed registration of a non-government school, by inserting a generalist clause requiring that any additional criteria set out in regulation must be complied with. The bill could be seen to allow a significant amount of regulatory freedom to the minister. Thankfully, the minister has provided the regulation to accompany this bill in part 4, that being that through their peak bodies, the Association of Independent Schools ACT and the Catholic Education Office of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, non-government schools must work with the minister for education to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The bill also introduces a regime to allow for the sharing of enrolment information across jurisdictions. In light of the royal commission’s findings, the Director-General of the Education Directorate will be able to share the enrolment status of a child in the ACT with their counterparts from other jurisdictions, to prevent borders becoming a barrier to child safety.

This legislation is the first of its kind in the country and may become the model on which other states develop their own information-sharing structures. The opposition, and particularly Ms Lee, are pleased to say that in our consultations both the AIS and the CEO have expressed their eagerness to work with the minister and their

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