Improved background screening to keep vulnerable Canberrans safe

Released 04/04/2019 - Joint media release

Minister for Community Services and Facilities, Chris Steel today introduced legislation to further strengthen Australia’s most comprehensive background checking scheme for employees and volunteers working with vulnerable people.

The Bill implements national policy reform stemming from the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and recommendations from the ACT’s legislative review of the scheme.

A major change to the scheme is an extension to registration renewal from 3 to 5 years reflecting the introduction of continuous background monitoring for employees and volunteers working with vulnerable people.

“This legislation will  further protect vulnerable people by strengthening the ACT’s already comprehensive background checking scheme and make it more efficient,” Minister Steel said.

“The changes reflect the move to continuous monitoring of a person’s background. If there is a red flag, (e.g. a person has been accused of an offence) a person’s registration could be re-assessed immediately.”

The Bill introduces disqualifying offences for those seeking to register for a NDIS activity.  A person who has committed an offence listed in the Bill would be an automatic excluded from working or volunteering with vulnerable people.

Minister for Disability Rachel Stephen-Smith said that the ACT is one of the first jurisdictions to introduce national changes to further protect people with disability accessing NDIS services.

“These changes are another important step in ensuring that that people working or who would like to work with NDIS services do not pose a risk to participants,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

A  person can complete the same application form and be subject to the same assessment processes as they are now, but there will be a few extra steps if they are seeking to register for an NDIS activity.

“The transition to NDIS has bought many changes to the framework that safeguards people with disability.  We have worked hard to ensure the transition to a new national Quality and Safeguards Commission for NDIS providers is as smooth as possible,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said these amendments are being introduced to support significant national policy reform including a national harmonisation of Working with Children Checks.

“This Bill establishes a framework for further changes later in the year to implement the Royal Commission’s recommendations for people working with children,” Minister Ramsay said.

“The ACT Government has worked swiftly to implement a strengthened national approach to protecting children.”

- Statement ends -

Section: Chris Steel, MLA | Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA | Gordon Ramsay, MLA | Media Releases

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