CHILDREN'S PROTECTION (INFORMATION SHARING) AMENDMENT BILL

Second Reading

Ms CHAPMAN ( Bragg—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (10:33): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

In introducing this bill—the Children's Protection (Information Sharing) Amendment Bill 2016—I inform members that the genesis of the amendments to the Children's Protection Act 1993 emanates from the Nyland royal commission. In particular, Commissioner Nyland recommended at 242 that the Children's Protection Act 1993 be amended:

(a) to permit and, in appropriate cases, require the sharing of information between prescribed government and non-government agencies that have responsibilities for the health, safety or wellbeing of children where it would promote those issues; and

(b) to require prescribed government and non-government agencies to take reasonable steps to coordinate decision making and the delivery of services for children.

Whilst the government has announced, via the Attorney-General, that it proposes to consider major legislative reform and a rewrite of the Children's Protection Act as a result of the Nyland royal commission report being published on 8 August this year, there is no basis whatsoever for us to wait to implement this provision. The government has chosen to fast-track, advance or approve, it says, 38 of the over 200 recommendations in Ms Nyland's report, but this is not one of them.

I am puzzled by that for two reasons; one is that the government introduced, prior to the report being submitted to the Governor via Ms Nyland in early August, a public data sharing bill. The Attorney chose in his second reading to suggest that one of the reasons for advancing that bill was to ensure that there is a sharing of data which, when Ms Nyland's report was subsequently published, was obviously identified as an area of need, and he suggested that it was going to be accommodated in that public data bill.

That is a bill that is still progressing through the parliament. It has been through our house here. It has some merit and we have supported it, but it has nothing to do with child protection. It has nothing to do with ministers in certain departments, in particular relating to the health, safety and wellbeing of children to be obliged—not just permitted, but obliged—to share certain information. It does not in any way address the requirement that prescribed government and non-government agencies must take reasonable steps to coordinate decision-making and delivery of services.

Commissioner Nyland made absolutely clear in her report that this was not just some optional data sharing for the advance of policy development for universities and others who might develop and advise governments on policy. This was to be a mandated provision in the Children's Protection Act. It is not adequate for the government to rely on their public data initiative, following the Baird government's introduction of that in New South Wales, and it is not adequate for the government to say, 'Look, in six months' time, when we have our policy unit review of the rest of the commissioner's recommendations, we will then come along with a children's protection rewrite bill and deal with it then.' That is not adequate.

The fundamental flaw is repeated throughout the reports of Ms Layton, commissioner Mullighan and numerous other internal reports, even Debelle as a retired judge doing his report and most recently the Nyland report. The Attorney-General has had somebody sitting in that commission hearing for the last two years. There is absolutely no excuse for why this provision, discrete as it is, should not be incorporated and acted upon now.

The government has also chosen to do other things as we have gone along: amend the Victims of Crime Act and deal with the question of levy for children. On interim recommendations of the commission, the Premier announced in June, in advance of the final report, that he was going to have a stand-alone child protection department. He promised that it would be ready by the tabling of the report. Come 4 August, it did not happen, and it still has not happened. We are still waiting on that to occur.

However, when it suits the government, they are happy to advance recommendations on their timing. Well, the recommendations of the commissioner are real and pressing and necessary for the protection of children on a daily basis. Just read the Chloe Valentine coronial report, just read the last Child Death and Serious Injury Review Committee Annual Report, and you will see time and time again the failure of government agencies and non-government agencies who undertake government services to share information and ensure that a child is not left isolated in a Housing Trust home or not going to school or presenting regularly at a hospital or being the subject of a child notification procedure under the Children's Protection Act.

All these are living in isolation, living in silos. We have had multiple reports to tell us this. I am very disappointed the government has not acted on this. We cannot wait for the safety of our children and, therefore, I urge members to consider this bill and to support it. It is entirely consistent with Ms Nyland's recommendation. We cannot allow another child to suffer, and on the current statistics it would be multiple children by the time we get to the end of the year and possibly discuss a new bill into 2017. That is not acceptable to me, it ought not be acceptable to the government, and I urge the government to support this bill and have this little piece of reform to protect our children advanced now.

Debate adjourned on motion of Mr Picton .