The ACT Greens today call for more robust measures to protect Canberra’s most vulnerable people from sexual and other forms of abuse.
“The Reportable Conduct Scheme seeks to protect those most vulnerable in our communities, particularly children, from institutionalised abuse,” Ms Le Couteur said. “Yet it appears that not all religious instructors are covered by the Scheme in all instances, potentially placing vulnerable members of our community at risk.”
“I am also concerned that vulnerable adults, such as people with disabilities or people suffering mental illness, are not currently covered by the scope of the Scheme’s protections.
“To close this gap, the ACT Greens call on the Government to introduce safeguards to ensure that all religious institutions and religious instructors as well as vulnerable adults are covered by the Reportable Conduct Scheme,” Ms Le Couteur said.
“In recent days we’ve heard reports that the Catholic Church has been unwilling to proactively address concerns that ‘people of concern’ are housed near children or vulnerable people,” Ms Le Couteur said. “These concerns highlight the need for robust protections to ensure that vulnerable members of our community are protected from abuse, in all forms.”
“The Government must ensure that the necessary protections are in place. An expansion of the definition of ‘designated entities’ in the legislation to also include religious institutions will ensure these protections are realised. Consideration could be made to include all people with Working with Vulnerable People checks to also be obliged to report suspicious activity in line with the Scheme.
The ACT has passed legislation to implement a reportable conduct scheme from 1 July 2017 in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
“This raft of robust measures will help ensure that the Reportable Conduct Scheme realises its fundamental purpose—the protection of those most vulnerable in our communities,” Ms Le Couteur added.