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Screening and vetting child protection plan 'undercooked'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Brenda Pilott.
Brenda Pilott.

The Public Service Association says a plan to screen and vet hundreds of thousands of government workers as part of a crackdown on child abuse, is undercooked.

The Vulnerable Children Bill will make the public sector more accountable for protecting children and require 376,000 government workers to undergo regular identity and police checks.

"No one can argue that people convicted of crimes against children or crimes of violence should be working directly with children, however the lack of detail on how this screening and vetting system will be implemented raises more questions than answers," says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

"It is a completely undeveloped plan. We don’t know who will administer it, how it will be managed, how far it will extend into government departments, and whether there is any information which shows that this sort of far-reaching response is required."

"We need to ensure that any police and identity check procedures for government workers are properly thought through - at the moment from what we’re seeing that certainly isn’t the case."

Brenda Pilott says "it is also ironic that the government is prepared to crackdown on child abuse by introducing tougher children protection laws and rigorous screening and vetting, when frontline services which actually deal with the problems, are so stretched."

The PSA believes the government’s estimated cost of $200,000 to implement screening and vetting procedures is completely unrealistic given the scale of the proposal.

"On the face of it this is a major proposal which will require a lot of time and resource for the government departments involved. It is also being imposed on local government without any consultation," says Brenda Pilott.

The PSA will be making a full submission on the legislation but says a lot more information and detail needs to be provided on the proposals and how they will work in practice.

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