Health and Child Wellbeing Legislation Amendment Bill 2017
Written on the 8 February 2018
8 February 2018
GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)
I am pleased to be able to make some comments this afternoon in relation to the Health and Child Wellbeing Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. As I think all members have spoken about in their contributions, we all acknowledge the work that is being undertaken in relation to keeping children safe in a variety of ways. Obviously this bill does go to that point in a number of areas.I wanted to firstly congratulate Ms Symes, who spoke about how in one of her areas the local council was able to achieve 100 per cent vaccination and immunity. To get to that degree is really remarkable, so well done to them. Let us hope that we can increase the numbers because, as we are learning today, we have that 95 per cent to enable herd immunity, which is up from 93 per cent last year, but much more needs to be done, and this bill goes to that point.
This bill does tighten the immunisation requirements under the no jab, no play provisions, and Ms Wooldridge highlighted that and the issues surrounding that very extensively in her contribution. Of course it has been quite controversial in some areas too, with some practitioners not being overly supportive of vaccinations for children. I think, again, it is incumbent on governments of all persuasions to ensure that the community is protected. That is why we do have such a significant record in this country and in this state, which is very, very pleasing.That herd immunity is there it is defined at that rate of 95 per cent so that the greater community can be protected. That is really to ensure that those who do not have the capacity, or have immunity deficiencies or diseases where they cannot be vaccinated, are protected. I think it is very, very important for the overall community to understand that this is done to ensure that we are protecting those children who cannot have vaccinations.
Ms Wooldridge highlighted the fairly significant numbers in relation to the exemptions that allow one to get around the requirements to have vaccinations. I welcome her amendment to this bill so that we can get that greater protection without excluding those children from attending early childhood education services.I think it is very important that we do as much as we can to get as many children vaccinated as possible in relation to the numbers we are talking about.
Another part of the bill establishes the mandatory reporting of cases of anaphylaxis in hospitals. We have heard in detail the reasons for that, including the coroner's case in 2010 following the tragic death of a young 10-year-old who inadvertently consumed a product that he was allergic to, had a dreadful reaction and tragically died. That was through unclear labelling or mislabelling. The mandatory reporting requirements will enable greater protection for the community so people understand what has occurred. It enables the secretary to put warnings out and alert the community about any untoward effects like that tragic case. Let us hope that nothing like that happens in the future.The bill also goes to the reporting of allegations of child abuse, misconduct and sexual misconduct. This has come out of areas like the Betrayal of Trust report, and we have heard about that over the period of four years since I had the privilege of tabling that report. Various other reports such as the Cummins inquiry report also highlighted some of the issues surrounding mandatory reporting and reportable conduct and the issues that are required to keep children safe. We have had a very long and extensive debate in this state and across the country in relation to the many issues relating to keeping children safe and protected from predatory behaviour and the awful consequences of course that arise from that behaviour.
The first tranche of legislation from the recommendations that the Family and Community Development Committee made in its report around a reportable conduct scheme came into effect last July. This bill continues on that work, and I am very pleased that is occurring. It is very clear what needs to be done. The bill will give more clarity to carers, especially around children and some of our most vulnerable who are in kinship or foster care arrangements, so that those carers understand their obligations in relation to reportable conduct, how they have an obligation and how they must conduct themselves as well. I am very pleased that is coming forward. I think it is very positive and an acknowledgement of what is required to be done and the work that has been done so far.Can I say while I am on my feet, in relation to the many inquiries that have been undertaken, that I learned today that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is making an apology in the national Parliament on behalf of those people who have suffered sexual abuse. I, like him, also call on this government to get on with a redress scheme. Our inquiry put a number of options in place, and I urge the Attorney-General and the Premier to get on with that, because the people that our committee heard from have been waiting years for this. We have had numerous inquiries, whether it be in relation to the Betrayal of Trust report or the royal commission, and I think this government needs to get on and undertake what it committed to do.
I think those areas around what is required in relation to keeping children safe are very good and sound moves. We need to build on what we have already done in this state. As I said at the outset, I was very pleased to hear Ms Symes say that one of her local councils has an exceptional immunisation rate amongst children in that area. I think that is a great benchmark for other communities to look at to ensure we do more to get more children vaccinated so we can protect those who are unable to be vaccinated due to their circumstances, whether that be through immune deficiencies or disease, as I said previously.The last part of the bill, and I know that it has been briefly spoken about, is to place under statute the power of the health complaints commissioner to prosecute. I think that has been explained by others in the debate. There have been concerns raised about the power to prosecute under the current Health Complaints Act 2016. This bill places that power under statute to enable the commissioner to undertake what is necessary if required.
As I stated at the outset, I acknowledge Ms Wooldridge's amendment, which I think is a positive move to ensure we can get greater protection for children. Enabling those children also to attend early childhood education settings is a very positive move. We need to do as much as we can to ensure that as many children as possible are protected. It is a responsibility and an obligation of all parents and all of us to ensure that we do so.