October 11, 2016  |  

Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Oversight and Enforcement of Child Safe Standards) Bill 2016

MS THOMSON (Footscray) — I rise to support the Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Oversight and Enforcement of Child Safe Standards) Bill 2016. Like a number of members in this house, I was around when the Betrayal of Trust report was tabled, and I think there was not a member in this chamber who did not feel immense responsibility to do the right thing by those who gave evidence before the committee that gave us the report. For those members — and I know the member for Broadmeadows is in the house at the moment — who participated in that committee, the personal effect on them of the evidence that was given was profound and long lasting. Everyone in the chamber who went on to speak about some of the evidence that was given was also profoundly affected.

This was a report that opened the eyes of everyone to things that we knew but did not know the depth of and to the impact on those who were the victims of sexual abuse. Parents entrusted their children to these people because they thought there would not be any more trustworthy people to give their children over to, and those things hit our community hard. The notion that they were not safe with the leader of a church group — the priest, the rabbi, the person that you would most entrust your children to thinking that they would be safe — that you could send them off to the scouts and they would not be safe or that they could be in the care of the state and not be safe is why I think there was a loudly stated bipartisan position that we needed to do better, that the community needed to do better and that we all own this outcome. We are all responsible for this outcome.

It is why the Andrews Labor government made the commitment to meet all the recommendations in the Betrayal of Trust report. It is why we are seeing legislation introduced into the Parliament to meet that commitment, and it is why this bill is before us in the house today. It is why every piece of legislation that we bring to this house that meets that commitment to the Betrayal of Trust report recommendations is crucially important, because without the package of changes we will not meet our responsibilities as members of Parliament. I am pleased to see this bill before the house, I am pleased to see there is bipartisan support in relation to bringing this bill before the house, and I know that there is more to come.

We all know that child abuse is unacceptable wherever it may occur. Whether it is in the home or the school, whether it is in the care of the state or whether it is in a church group or a community group, children need to be safe and parents need to know that their children are safe, and the measures within this legislation are important in giving the Commission for Children and Young People the power to achieve that. In ensuring that the Commission for Children and Young People has the appropriate functions and powers to administer and monitor — —

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Blandthorn) — Order! The time appointed by sessional orders for me to interrupt business has now arrived. The honourable member may continue her speech when the matter is next before the Chair.

Business interrupted under sessional orders.