Please note: This is an extract from Hansard only. Hansard extracts are reproduced with permission from the Parliament of Tasmania.
CHILD CARE BILL 2001 (No. 63)
Ms WRIEDT (Franklin - Minister for Education - 2R) -Mr Deputy Speaker, I move -
That the bill be now read the second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide for the regulation of child-care services and child-care workers and for related purposes. This bill will regulate the provision of care to a child by a person other than the child's parent, guardian or member of the child's extended family, where that care is provided for fee or other material benefit.
In keeping with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that the 'best interests of the child are paramount', this bill also ensures that people charged with the responsibility of caring for children are 'fit and proper persons'.
This bill replaces the Child Care Act of 1960, which was created following the repeal of sections of the Child Welfare Act of 1960. These old pieces of legislation focused on the treatment and provision of services to Wards of the State and children in orphanages, or children at risk of neglect. They were never intended to encompass the provision of child care as we know it today.
The child-care industry has seen significant changes in the past 40 years, including the introduction of outside-school-hours care and family day care. New legislation is required to ensure that the industry is regulated and that licences can be issued to all existing and emerging sections of the child-care industry. There is also a clear need for legislation which demonstrates an understanding and commitment to the work of those who care for children.
Mr Deputy Speaker, as a parent, I know only too well that the decision to place a child into the care of a person who is not a family member is perhaps one of the hardest decisions a parent will make. There are so many issues to consider. On the one hand, to ensure our children will be safe and free from any kind of physical, emotional or social harm. On the other hand, to find a caring situation where our children will receive education and care that will optimise their learning and present challenges for them to develop new skills and enhance their abilities - a situation which contributes to the foundation which will assist our children grow into confident, competent learners and citizens.
An increasing number of families need child care to allow parents to work, study or provide their children with opportunities to develop their social skills within an enriched environment. As people move for work or retirement, young parents are often raising their children away from the traditional support of their families. There is much anecdotal evidence that indicates that child-care services provide an avenue where families can find the community support to help them develop as caring and confident parents.
It is the Government's role to regulate the provision of child care and ensure that the standard of care is high and that children will be safe whilst in care. The Government would be negligent in its duties if it did not have the legislative authority to, for example, inspect premises, investigate claims of abuse or negligence and review applications for licences.
The core issues of health, safety and staffing to protect children and foster their development are central to a robust regulatory system. The challenge is to develop a system, which on the one hand promotes the care and safety of children and their developmental needs, and on the other hand, promotes service flexibility and affordability. Hence, this bill is about regulating the provision of child care, it is about setting and implementing standards of care and providing a statutory framework so that parents can feel secure when they choose a child care service for their children.
This bill is notable for its inclusion of objectives that clearly specify the intention of the legislation. They make it clear that child care is not simply a matter of providing a roof over the heads of children and giving them meals to eat and toys to play with. This bill lays down an expectation that children will be nurtured and educated within quality and culturally appropriate environments, and that families will have responsive child-care services as their needs change. The bill also recognises that centrality of child care in supporting the community infrastructure.
The legislation requires the development of standards that will enable those providing child care and the premises in which child care is provided to be assessed and monitored. The standards will include processes for amendment, review or revocation. They will describe the classes of licences, the processes for issuing them, disciplinary action allowable, exemptions, dispute resolution, the review processes and the administration and enforcement of the standards.
The standards support the intent of the legislation to provide for the establishment and maintenance of quality service outcomes that ensure the provision of a safe, nurturing environment where children can learn, have positive interactions with other children and be part of programs that enhance their emotional, intellectual, social and physical development. It also aims to support families by enabling the development of a wide range of cohesive and integrated child-care services in the community.
Last year, when the regulatory impact statement and the draft bill were released, most of the sector welcomed the new legislation, although some provisions caused concerns in some sections of the industry. There were also issues raised by some people concerning review mechanisms, inspections and investigations.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I make no apologies for the provisions of the bill, which enable close scrutiny of child-care businesses and carers. As I have indicated, the interests of the child are paramount and it is vital that the legislation enables departmental officers to thoroughly review applications for licences, investigate the character and experience of carers and managers and inspect premises. In many respects, the powers contained in this legislation are just as extensive as licensing or registration requirements for other industries. Members would be well aware that in any drafting legislation, you need to make provision for any scenario that may arise and the corresponding power to deal with it.
There has been genuine and effective consultation with the child care industry over more than two years about this legislation. Workshops and forums were held to develop initial draft legislation and documentation. Following the release of the regulatory impact statement, the draft bill and standards last year, it was clear that we needed to continue to work closely with the sector on the major impacts of the legislation. This work has been very successful.
Over one thousand organisations and individuals received a copy of the regulatory impact statement, bill and standards in September and October last year. It was distributed widely to all child-care providers, schools, relevant unions, government agencies and parent groups. In response, 417 submissions were received, including 265 form letters or petitions and 152 individual responses.
In February this year, I established the Child Care Legislation Reference Group whose role it was to provide me with advice about the bill and standards based on the feedback. The group, which I chaired, comprised representation from a range of stakeholders including peak bodies for the various parts of the child-care industry, unions, training providers, parents and local government, as well as departmental officers. It has met frequently over the past several months and its contribution to the redrafting of the bill and the standards cannot be underestimated. Issues were resolved through amendment or addition to the bill, or through clear explanation of the legislation and its provisions.
More complex issues were dealt with by preparing discussion papers, which were considered by the group and by the people, and organisations the group represented. Some of this work will continue as the standards for child care are further developed over the next few months.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the members of the child-care industry who have worked to develop the legislation and the standards for public consultation and most recently the seventeen members of the reference group for their time, commitment and the intellectual rigour they brought to the process. I am confident that the result is an act which will be workable and is accepted by an overwhelming majority of the industry.
Under this legislation, three types of licences will be issued: approved
registration body; centre-based child care; and home-based child care. The
approved registration body will encompass areas such as family day care schemes
and nanny agencies. Centre-based care will cover those traditional
environments where care occurs such as child-care centres and school or other
settings other than a person's residence, whilst home-based care covers private
contracts between carers and parents.
The legislation clearly outlines what actions may be taken to thoroughly check the character and experience of applicants for child-care licences and employees of child-care businesses. People wishing to provide a child-care service must apply for a licence or registration. The application process will involve screening for things like criminal convictions, refusals in other jurisdictions and inspections of premises to be used for child care. In recognition that applicants for licence or registration also have rights, all processes and procedures are transparent and clearly stated in the legislation. This will enable prospective applicants to decide whether or not to apply for the privilege of obtaining a child-care licence. Parents of children are entitled to a guarantee that their children are being cared for by carers who will not abuse their position of trust with children. It is this Government's belief that this guarantee can be best achieved by having a fully and properly regulated child-care industry.
This Government recognises that the child-care industry is a vibrant area of our social fabric that is rapidly growing and changing. Children are our future, and as a community, we must have confidence that their wellbeing and safety is assured. Mr Deputy Speaker, I have great pleasure in formally moving the second reading of this bill and I commend the bill to the House.
Mr FRY (Bass) - Mr Deputy Speaker, the Opposition supports the Child Care Bill 2001 and I shall make some more comments in regard to that in just a moment.
I must say at the outset that we do object to the limited time that has been allowed for the Opposition to be able to scrutinise this bill. I acknowledge and realise that there has been a previous version of the bill around for some time but that was one which had obviously a number of changes made to it because of objections raised by people who are in the industry.
The Government has been working on this bill as I acknowledge for quite some time as have a number of other people. In fact I think you mentioned over two years the other day. But, as I said, with the initial draft of the bill a number of objections were raised. There were a number of concerns raised by people in the industry. There were concerns raised also by the Opposition in regard to some of the provisions, and obviously to the degree that the bill was withdrawn at the time and referred back to the department for redrafting. I guess we will have to take the minister's word, and I am sure she has consulted quite widely with the industry and that they have agreed with the amendments that have been made, but unfortunately we have only had about 36 hours since the bill was dropped on the Notice Paper, and less than eighteen hours since I was able to receive a briefing on the legislation together with the clause notes and the fact sheets that accompanied it.
This is important legislation, and we certainly agree with the principle espoused in the bill that the welfare of children should be paramount in the framing of the legislation. However, there are some other areas of concern in regard to balancing the protection of our children who are in child care of whatever form, and also the rights of people who are also involved in the industry as workers, owners of premises and licensees.
It is pleasing to note that there is a large number of submissions and a large number of people involved in the process of developing this legislation, and I do congratulate the minister on the work that she has obviously done on a very extensive bill. I know there has been a lot of time taken and a lot of time involved in getting it to this stage. I would also like to pay tribute to my predecessor as education spokesman, Ray Groom, who I know had a very great interest in this area. It was not just a portfolio issue for him. He did have a great deal of concern in regard to the welfare of our children, and also consulted widely himself with a large number of people. I think also the people who have been involved in the consultation need to be congratulated, and also members of the minister's staff. There has been obviously a lot of work done in this area, and it is not always easy to come up with the right balance in regard to protecting our children and also the rights of other people.
As a parent myself, I can concur with the comments the minister made in regard to wanting to make sure that our children are cared for properly and adequately, that the people who are involved in the industry looking after our children are appropriately qualified, have not only qualifications but the appropriate character to allow us to be confident that our children are in good hands.
I do have some areas of concern, and the minister may be able to allay my fears in regard to the prescription of the degree or detail of education which is going to be required of the people involved in the various levels or various types of child care. Obviously there are different situations where you have a child-care centre or home-based care or family day care, and I would hope that is spelt out in the standards, which again we have not had an opportunity to scrutinise. I believe at the moment they are in draft form and we would be trusting, I suppose, that those standards cover a lot of those areas. Again I would have thought there would have been a different level, if you like, of education required in regard to those different types of child care and also obviously having regard to the ages of the children that are involved in some of those different types of situations.
We also have some concerns about some of the provisions enabling the secretary of the department to photograph, video and use electronic devices, not only to record an applicant for a licence but also relatives and other people involved with them, and some of those provisions also apply to the inspection of premises used for child care. I trust that the minister might be able to clarify some of those things for us when we move into the committee stage of the bill or at the conclusion of the second reading debate.
There were also some concerns raised with me in regard to the compatibility of some parts of the bill - I do not have the clause numbers in front of me but I am sure we will get to that - with the Industrial Relations Act regarding dismissal of child carers or removal of them from premises et cetera, or sacking of staff. Hopefully the minister can clarify that for us. As I said before, I recognise the difficulty in balancing on the one hand the protection of children and in recognition also that that must be the paramount thing that we look at in regard to this area with the rights of workers, employers and licensees working in the industry.
There will be a number of areas that we will want to look at and investigate when we go into committee. We have had a little time to scrutinise this bill and we will need detailed answers on a large number of issues in order to satisfy ourselves that the bill will actually do what it purports to achieve.
There was one other issue which I wanted to raise here which actually does not get mentioned in the bill but I trust it will be in the standards and it is an issue which is not necessarily directly related to this child-care bill but the bill itself is silent on it. That might sound a little bit convoluted but there is an issue being raised in regard to child-care facilities being set up in hotels and gambling venues. I do not know whether you intend to address those sorts of issues in the standards as to the type of place that you might be allowed to set up a child-care facility or a crèche facility, but it is something that I would like to see addressed as well.
The other area that I would want to investigate, amongst many others, is the effect that it may have on insurances - the type of insurances that might be required for some of these centres. Will there be any new requirements - workers compensation insurance, public liability? Has there been any work done on assessing what sort of effect that may have on premiums et cetera?
The other thing I would like to ask is what other States have similar legislation? Has there been any modelling of this bill done with other States' legislation and there are quite a number of other issues that we would like to pursue in the committee stage.
All I can say, and I know it is not the fault of the minister that we have had legislation rushed in in this way. I know that she has been prepared. I was offered a briefing initially on Friday, that is tomorrow, so it was obviously your intention to bring this legislation on after that and circumstances surrounding the lack of other legislation in this House have forced your hand in bringing this forward. So all I can do is ask the minister that she would allow full debate on this very complex and important piece of legislation for the good and welfare of children in this State who are involved in child care.
Ms PUTT (Denison) - Mr Speaker, the Greens will be supporting this legislation. It has been quite some while in development and it has been quite a laborious and lengthy process.
I would like to compliment the people involved in that process for their work, the people within the department and working on the legislation and also the people in the child-care sector who have vigorously scrutinised the earlier drafts and whose interaction has led to a lot of changes and improvements to the bill that we now have before us.
I have actually got a background in what is becoming I suppose a more distant past now that my children are older. In child care I have been involved in the committees managing several child-care centres and I was in fact involved in establishing and running a child-care centre when my children were smaller. So I have some knowledge at the working end of the issue as to all the different matters that are involved in undertaking activities in this industry. It is obviously well past time that we had something to replace the Child Care Act 1960. It was not ever conceived to deal with modern child-care-type situations and it is going to be very good to get this system into place under the new legislation.
The Greens have followed this through the process, and my adviser, Kath Hughes, has been present at a number of meetings where the issues have been discussed in some detail. I would thank you for the briefing that we received yesterday and I think many of the issues that were brought up through the consultation seem to have been adequately dealt with. There are really only a couple of outstanding matters which I raised during the briefing yesterday; they are not of any major significance but are along the lines of tidying up some queries around the edges. One of those is simply to do with the procedure, which we do support, of taking personal identification through fingerprints and handprints, and so on, of persons who are involved in working with child care or closely associated with children who are in child care.
The matter that I have a concern about is what happens to those materials once the checks have been done - it is simply about the disposal of that personal information once it is no longer necessary. A civil liberties issue on the side, if you like. One of the other issues that has come up is the way the legislation is framed at the moment. The advisory council is something that the minister may appoint but may decide not to. I think the Opposition may also feel this way that in fact we believe that an advisory council must be created and must exist. We would like to see a change in that regard. Generally, I would like to commend the minister and, as I said, all the people who have worked on this, both within government and outside of government, on all the hard and thorough work that has been done to achieve this legislation.
Mrs NAPIER (Bass) - Mr Deputy Chairman, I am pleased to see this legislation before the House and I accept that it has taken some time to work through some of the problems that were originally raised certainly with a number of members on this side of the House when the original draft of the bill was put forward. I think the minister was wise in setting up a reference group to deal with some of the feedback which was received; I was just listening on the squawk box and it seemed that there was quite considerable input. I am not at all surprised about that because there were some real concerns. Whilst I was only able to attend part of the briefing yesterday, I think some of the difficulties appear to have been fixed up and perhaps the minister can clarify them for us as we go through the bill.
I also would like to acknowledge, before getting to a couple of questions I wanted to raise, the fact that the minister may not have preferred to have brought this bill on this week. I must admit I rang a couple of friends of mine that I know very well in the child-care industry, given that I guess I got to know people fairly well, having been involved in doing a lot of the lobbying and the planning and designing of the Bungawitta Child Care Centre as one of the original committee. So I guess I have lived through child care in terms of going through the plans, going through the designs, trying to get something that was suited for the children, the workers, the parents. And yes, I have dug gardens and run fund raisers and just about everything else that goes on in one of the most lowly paid professions in Australia. I also have a very high regard for the work that is done in both family-based day care, as well as the child-care area.
I think it would have been useful if there had been a longer period of time in which the minister could have first of all dropped the bill but enabled us at least to go to some of our electors and say, 'Look, have you seen the latest bill, are you comfortable with it?'. I rang a few of them up and they said, 'I haven't seen the bill. I saw the original one and I had an opportunity to provide input' - which they did and they appreciated that. They indicated they would like to have seen it but they were hoping that the reference group would have picked up any and all of their concerns. I am hoping that that is true too because I am standing up here as the member for Bass and quite importantly representing people in my own community. I would prefer to have had an opportunity to take the bill, deliver it to a couple of the key people that I know in the child-care industry and family-based day care and ask them, 'Are you comfortable with this?' and if they said to me, 'Yes, that's fine, we've been listened to by the Government', it would just give it an easier and better transition.
I find it quite annoying when the Government, as it has consistently done over the past three years, drops really large pieces of legislation at night. You quite often want to whip it through. I happen to see one of the worst offenders, the Deputy Premier, sitting over there, although he has a heavy workload I know. He loves bringing racing bills on and sneaking them through usually in the wee hours of the night. It is not good public policy making. I wonder if the Government actually did any work during what appears to have been two months' holiday. Whilst most of us were out in the electorate working hard, it appears that ministers may have gone for a holiday and did not keep the pressure on their departments to make sure that they got the legislation up and ready. To bring us back into this Parliament without at least a reasonable number of bills that you would be able to put down for this House so that we, as members, could make sure that at the close of business today we go out into our communities, we consult and we are able to come back fully informed. I just think this is a Big Brother Government in the way in which it operates, but that is not what democracy is supposed to be about.
It does appear from part of the briefing I had yesterday - and I thank the minister and her officers for that; it was a good briefing with good information - that some of the concerns that emanated in relation to cost, some of the issues of rights and responsibilities in terms of what were regarded as personal invasions, the issue of where private arrangements sit and so on have been tidied up. I support my colleague, the member for Bass, Mr Fry, in that I guess to some extent we are watching to see what might come out when the standards are released. Once again we will rely on people in the community to provide us with that feedback.
If I could just ask the minister to clarify a couple of matters in the response to the second reading - I was not there for that part of the briefing, that is why I will ask the question. One of the real concerns was how this relates to home-based child care, acknowledging that obviously family-based day care that is conducted in the home needs to be certainly covered by the bill and I would expect it to be so. If I choose, as a parent or a guardian, to employ a licensed child carer, in other words if I want to make sure that the person is licensed and has appropriate training and so on, I can obtain information about whether that person is licensed or not, I would ask for clarification. Does that mean that my home has to be licensed in order for that licensed child carer to be able to provide the service in my home? That is one question I had.
The other question is, could I just get it on the record though that if I, as a parent, chose to hire someone to look after my children and I wished not to necessarily use a registered licence carer, I trust that I would still have the choice to decide just to employ someone. That is my risk and I can tell you I am not going to take any risks with my kids. Mind you they are a little big to have child carers now they were telling me the other day - seventeen and twenty is a bit old to do that.
I think it is really important for individuals to have that right to make that decision in relation to their own children, whether it is a grandmother, an aunt, a friend or someone you have personally chosen to employ and that of course involves child care whereby you would be paying someone to provide that care in your home. If the minister could just clarify that because I know there was a lot of concern about that particular issue and to make it absolutely clear let us get it on the record what this bill says about that area.
The other question I raised was in relation to the babysitting issue and there was a lot of concern about that because it looked as if we were going to be required to use licensed babysitters. It may not have been the intention of the bill and I accept that, but in the original bill that was the way we read it. I may well decide to use a licensed babysitter, but I might also choose not to and there is also then the whole question of whether babysitting would become a non-viable service basically because not many parents are willing to pay huge sums for it.
When you are finding a babysitter you pay quite a bit of attention to that and, as a parent, I have used a child-care agency but I have to say they knew what my expectations were. They got some pretty good feedback on one matter very quickly and there was no problem thereafter. I suppose I then ask the question: if I choose to use a babysitting agency, does that mean that that agency has to be licensed, that the babysitters have to be licensed and what would the training be? That is a question - I am not saying it is happening, I am just asking. Can we get that absolutely clear as to whether this applies to babysitting and if it does, how it does, because I think that is really important.
If we can just clarify these more informal, personal arrangements that have traditionally been made and whether it is intended by the bill to provide increased choice of getting a licensed person if you want them or not, that would be very helpful. In making legislation it is really important that these second reading speeches have some weight in the way in which they are to be interpreted, both within the community and with any legal test that might be applied. I know sometimes that does not apply; it certainly does not apply to a particular local government bill we put through. But second reading speeches are supposed to have weight in terms of what the actual interpretation of the bill is, so let us get it on the record.
I too would be interested in the minister's response in relation to the situation as far as hotels are concerned. I am familiar with the fact that child-care centres are quite often provided in fairly extensive entertainment clubs that you might find on the mainland where not only can you have a drink or get a meal but you might be able to play bowls or go the fitness club. There is quite a range of entertainment facilities that are provided and child-care facilities are quite often provided as part of that.
I am interested though as to how this bill will apply to hotels, particularly those which have gaming centres with the flashing sign on the front of the hotel, because I think the community is particularly sensitive to that issue. Without wanting to wind that one up, I really just ask for an interpretation, given that there are already a number of hotels as I understand it that have child-care facilities. I am interested in seeing whether this bill applies to them. Can they operate informally or are they required to be registered?
The other issue I raise is my concern that there was an increasing trend towards private schools - well intended, absolutely - to offer in effect child-care services, but they seem to operate under one set of rules and child-care centres have to operate under another set of rules. That seems to me to be an absolute nonsense. Does the Child Care Bill in talking about anyone who provides a commercial service for children - I have not seen in there whether there is an age definition - mean that some private schools will still be able to provide 'school' for three-year-olds and four-year-olds, or have we tidied it up, as we discussed? I would be interested as to what age definition you are using in terms of at what age you can go into a school setting, including kindergarten, and at what age you can still be in child care. I think that needs clarifying for the sake of this House, certainly, but most importantly for the sake of the children. This should not be seen in any way as a criticism of those who provide those services - very well intended by both the schools and the parents who use those facilities, and there are some very good programs out there. But it just seems to me that if we argue that there ought to be a certain ratio of carers to children in a child-care centre, why would you not also ask for the same ratio of carers-cum-teachers to children in a school setting. I raise that, because I was really quite concerned as I became aware of the increasing trend for people to make sure that their children got into the school at an early age because in some cases it was cheaper. But it just seemed to me it was not good policy. If we thought it was important enough to set a carer/child ratio for young children in a child-care centre then certainly we ought to be considering that for the same age group of children in a school if that school were providing child care.
That certainly goes to the nub of the matter because child care is not just about putting the kids into a caring setting in a holding manner. I think people are going to start to realise that child care is even more important than what happens when they get to school, and more important for some children than others. Whilst I will defend to the death the right of a parent to provide the very best quality care that they can full-time - and I think that is great for those parents who can and want to make the sacrifices to do that and we ought to support them absolutely, even to the point of delaying entry of their children into kindergarten - I think it is really important that we recognise that we are not going to solve the problems associated with the increasing trend in crime by just dealing with youth justice acts. We are not going to solve the crime, mental health, distressed families and alienated youth problems that we have in our community by just more police, more youth justice acts, more and better prisons and more penalties. That is one end of the stick. It is going to help to some extent, but it really picks up the pieces after the children have got into trouble.
As someone with a background in education, I agree with the kindergarten teachers: you could tell who was the potential criminal right then. I originally started off as a physical education teacher, and I used to teach children with perceptual motor learning problems in other areas. Teachers could say, 'They've been in there for five days and I know them, and I've followed a few of them', and they were right, they were spot on. But you know what is happening now? The feedback I am getting is that nurses can tell you who are going to be the potentially dysfunctional people. The nurses can tell you. I say, 'How can that be?' and they say if you look at the relationships between the parents and the children and some of the issues that are going on, some potentially dysfunctional young people, through their own fault or otherwise, can be identified then. I am not sure if I would go right back to identifying them the minute they are born, but I can tell you the answers to helping people get a better start in life have to be about programs that tackle supporting family, supporting children, the parent-effectiveness programming work that we can do. I must say I like the St Lucia University programs that they are running; I think there is some real potential in those. I know they are used right around the world, not just here in Australia.
We have to do something for children when they are one, two, three and four. Child-care centres are one of the key settings - these and good family-based day care are part of that program of assisting parents and children and giving them the best possible chance. I must not get into this, but this is even more important with the under culture; in other words, those communities - and we can all pick those communities, we know them, we have them in our own electorates - that are called the under class. When you go into schools and you find that you have one child in ten in those schools that are notified cases of child abuse, let alone the ones that are not, we know that we have to do better in terms of supporting our families and our children before they get to school. So what we are doing today is a part of that, but I think it is just scraping the surface. I feel pretty strongly about that. It is important.
The other questions have been raised I think well by the shadow minister. The compatibility with the Industrial Relations Act as it applies -
Mrs James - Oh, we've got one, have we? We've got a shadow minister?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order.
Mrs NAPIER - Yes, good on you, Gill. No worries.
Section 25 raises some interesting questions. I have a few questions to ask in relation to discipline. I am still concerned about the fact there is no appeal in relation to a censure, given that the legislation allows for a letter of direction and, most importantly, I think if you actually get to the point of a letter of censure that it actually can be demonstrated that that letter was ill-advised. I think if that is sitting on your record, that is not going to help and I still think you should have a means by which you can appeal that. There are some other questions - just minor ones, really - and one particularly in relation to the section where it refers to 'a parent'. I think it should also make a reference to a guardian.
I support the bill in principle, pending clarification of a couple of those points. I do not have any evidence that there is any concern out there in the community about the elements of it, but I would appreciate it if the minister could clarify a number of those areas that I have raised.
Mrs SWAN (Lyons - Deputy Leader of the Opposition) - Mr Deputy Speaker, Mrs Napier has just raised what is a core matter in this legislation which has been very well described by her and I think is of particular importance. It is to do with the balance in the bill with respect to that immensely important principle of taking care of children through care that is provided as a service for fee on a commercial basis, and care that is provided of a parent's own volition through an arrangement that may exist with a family member, or with friends or with someone who may provide a service such as a babysitting service. She has asked, quite correctly, just exactly what the bill does with respect to balancing the freedom of an individual to choose, as they ought to be able to, with the need to regulate what is a well accepted and vitally needed industry with respect to the care of our children.
I did not have the opportunity of having a briefing with the minister's department on the legislation, but I have been sitting looking at certain aspects of the bill while others have been making their contributions. The minister may indeed be able to go on in her response and indicate to me precisely where this matter is resolved in the bill and this is the matter, as I say, of how a babysitting service or a babysitter, as chosen by a parent, no doubt coming and providing a service for a fee, is resolved within the bill? Because when I look at the interpretation clause, which is clause 4, and I look at the definition of child care, I find that 'child care' is defined as -
'Child care is the provision, for fee or other material benefit, of care to a child by a person other than -
(a) the child's parent; or
(b) a member of the child's extended family.'
We all understand exactly what that means. Quite clearly, it is the greater family arrangement and of course the parents.
But when we look at the types of licensing arrangements that apply to child care, we have under Part 2 - Child care to be licensed and the provision reads: clause 8 -
'A person must not operate or provide child care or a child care service except as authorised by a licence or registration.'
The penalty for that is a fine not exceeding 100 penalty units.
As I read that particular provision, Minister, it seems to me that if you are in fact providing child care in the form of a babysitting service and you are not a person who comes within the definition of clause 4 - in other words, ergo, you are not the parent or a member of the extended family and you are indeed doing it for a fee - then you are caught by that provision. You may be able to indicate to me whether that is a fault in the bill or whether I have misinterpreted it or how a babysitting arrangement may in fact be provided under that set of circumstances. There may be an easy solution to it and you may be able to help me with it.
As I say, the comments that have just been made by Mrs Napier are in fact at the heart of the bill and they are acknowledging what a government needs to do when it looks at a commercial service and what we would regard as the ordinary rights of the community, parents and extended family to choose someone who may, on a temporary basis, take care of a child. No-one would pull back from the understanding that if we cannot take care of our children well in these circumstances then we are simply not doing the right thing as governments and as a society. There is no inference that we ought not to be involved and very carefully looking at the industry to make sure that the services provided are of the very best that can be provided and I have no doubt that the operations that flourish in Tasmania fit that bill.
But, nonetheless, we have seen fit to proceed with legislation because of course it is a growing industry and we have a proper recognition that women now work and have, in recent years, been working in larger and larger numbers. They should be able to rest safe in the feeling that when they deliver their children to a child-care service then they are going to have their children very well taken care of, so the regulatory regime of course is immensely important.
I want to go back over that aspect and perhaps, as I say to the minister, it may well be easily clarified but I would be particularly interested in knowing how those parts work together and how that is attended to. Some of the problem of course has been referred to by Mr Fry because, as he has indicated, the minister may indeed have been unwilling to bring the bill on before next week. I had an understanding that there was to be a briefing provided on Friday and that was in fact brought forward and, as we have seen in the House, there has been a shortage of legislation this week. Even though we have had a considerable period off, the Government has in fact not been able to supply the list with sufficient legislation to keep us going. So it is important that we know that this has in fact been properly attended to and that all those who have an interest in this industry and in the provision of child care are satisfied with the arrangements that have been put together in the bill.
Minister, I notice that Mr Fry also indicated that the standards are in the process of being developed at this moment I understand and he has not yet seen them. You might be able to tell us a little more about those standards and also what will occur as far as the ability of the people involved in child care to have an ongoing reference with regard to further standards that might be developed. It seems to me that this is always a way that government can quietly move in the background, increasing the pressure, if you like, on services in a way that can make it extremely difficult for operators to keep going and there may indeed be very little reference or monitoring by those involved outside as to incremental standards. So if you can indicate to me just how you will consult with the industry over those standards and any extra standards in future that may be developed, whether there is a protocol that the Government has developed, so that we are assured that those who are currently operating in this field do not, bit by bit, get moved out of it because of the cost implications of new arrangements that may come into being. This is something that we have seen, I think, on an ongoing basis perhaps in aged care.
I am aware that in some circumstances there are provisions made for the elderly that are deemed in certain communities by the individuals themselves to be comfortable. Of course once again I do not pull back from the fact that the care must be of the highest order that we can provide - it must be clean, it must be safe, it must be the best kind of care that a community can deliver to its aged. But we do not want to see such enormous cost implications for people who operate in the child-care industry that they finally fold and cannot provide what is an absolutely vital service for the community and particularly for working mothers who must have the ability to cover the cost for their children as well as being assured that the care that is provided is of the highest order.
They are a couple of matters that I am interested in. I think that the shadow spokesperson on this matter intends to take it into committee and there will be a number of other matters that we will look at as we go through the drafting provisions. I am particularly interested in those aspects. I might also go on to indicate that in carrying out these provisions you are talking about an appeals panel, an advisory council that will, of course, advise you - a number of matters that will quite clearly have need of resourcing.
I do not know whether you can tell me what the department anticipates will be the likely costs that will come from the setting-up of those arrangements. Will it be done within the existing arrangements in the department? Will new people be involved? What provision is likely to be made through the budget process and how that will be carried out? Because that is the other aspect of the legislation that if in fact you put in place a regime, you have to have the capacity to carry it out and we have seen in history in recent times all sorts of arrangements that have applied to child care where some quite terrifying things have happened and I am not referring to this State; I am referring to places in fact on the other side of the world. I have in my mind the United Kingdom where quite clearly there have been matters dealt with by child-care service agencies operating out of government where there have been misses made. That may well have been due to a lack of resources. It may well have been due to some fault in the system that should have been attended to, some protocol that was overlooked, something that needed to be put in place.
I know that you, as minister, would be highly desirous of making sure that there was not any flaw in your legislation or in the resourcing arrangements that will prevail with what you do in setting up this arrangement; I know that wishing that to occur would be the furthest thing that would be from your mind, but it will also be necessary that that is provided for. So if you can give me an indication of resourcing, anticipated budget flows, how this will occur, that will at least give me some reassurance.
As I say, the setting up of a regime is the first step. The second step is most definitely being able to indicate to the public and child carers themselves that you will have the capacity to do this in an ongoing fashion so that they are not left out on a limb in complying with the legislation. They will know that there are people there who can answer their questions and come and give some advice with regard to the premises and what they do and that, obviously, is integral with respect to the way they carry out their business.
I have heard I think in your second reading speech, Minister, that there were some comments made with regard to the final draft of the bill we see in front of us where - correct me if I am wrong - there had been some comment made with regard to inspection. I think you said it was one area where there had been a concern indicated by the people who had been consulted. I think you did mention, also, the process of review and I think there was a third matter, although I cannot recall at the moment what that was. I think that you have generally indicated that there is a handful of matters there that people have expressed some reservation about or have made some comment about, so you may be able to, again, indicate in your response what those matters are. Because, again, the problem in this arrangement and the problem, of course, for Mr Fry is that he has not had in this short period of time enough chance to go back to those who are within the industry and asks them all if they are satisfied with the legislation or whether some changes are still needed.
Mr Fry has also quite correctly mentioned the matter of insurance and what will apply as far as that is concerned and I am sure that he, like me, would like to hear a little bit more information about that.
The provision of child care in association with hotels has also been addressed by both Mrs Napier and Mr Fry and that obviously is concerning with respect to how the Government sees this aspect that is of public concern at the present moment. How will the Government be looking at that particular area? Hotels that have gambling with them and child-care arrangements that may be attached to those sorts of hotels, child-care arrangements that may be attached to any other hotels that perhaps do not have the provision of gambling facilities.
But, in short, we will seek to do some further examination of the bill and satisfy some of these requirements as we go through the committee stage.
Ms WRIEDT (Franklin - Minister for Education) - It hardly seems worth it, does it? I will speak very slowly in the 30 seconds or so until the clock ticks over. I thank members for their contributions to the legislation and particularly for their support of the industry, because it is a very important part of the industry. In fact I had not realised that we had so many members of this House who were former child-care workers themselves, so I have learnt something.
Sitting suspended from 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.
Ms WRIEDT - Mr Deputy Speaker, in the very brief seconds I had before the lunchbreak, I was just beginning to address some of the issues that have been raised by members of the Opposition during the second reading speech. Firstly, I guess there seems to be a recurring theme from members of the Opposition and there was the question of the time frame for this legislation; there had been a suggestion that there was inadequate time in terms of consultation with the industry. I certainly do not accept that. As members know, this has been a very long process, the process has been in train for some two years now. Following the bill last year - the draft bill that was released in October last year, along with the regulatory impact statement and the draft standards - there was widespread consultation. In fact we extended the public consultation period. During that process, there were some 2 000 copies of the bill and the standards and the RIS that were distributed. It was also available electronically. Out of that process, we had some 417 submissions put forward, some 200-odd of those were in the form of letters or petitions and the others came from individuals and organisations within the child-care sector.
I have certainly spent a great deal of time in the last twelve months in particular, talking to members of the child-care industry on visits that I have done to individual centres. I spent a day, because I do not come from a child-care background, working in a child-care centre to try to understand some of the differences and I guess some of the nuances of the child-care sector and the sorts of demands that are placed on the workers. I talked to directors of centres about the standards and the sorts of issues there. I spent a day going around and talking to family day-carers, which was very interesting also, and I have since spoken to individual family day carers who have approached me at various functions and we have talked about aspects of the legislation. In fact I think it was the weekend before last when I was at a social function there were about three family day carers there who individually approached me and said they were looking forward to the legislation.
Then, as members have alluded to and as I have spoken about in my second reading speech, I established the legislation reference group, and that group is comprised of seventeen people from across the different sectors; they were nominated. I wrote to different organisations that represent the child-care sector and asked them to provide nominations to be on that group. I think the group of people who then became members of that group which has met on twelve or thirteen occasions since it was formed, collectively have a great deal of expertise within the child-care sector and I believe have provided me with excellent advice. We have spent time in between meetings where we have considered different issues, where there have been issues, papers or information papers that have been put together, and those members who are representing these different organisations in the sector have then gone off and consulted with their members.
I have asked someone to do me a rough count of the numbers of people who would actually have been through that process, the numbers of people that are represented by those who have been on that reference group through those organisations. We estimate that there are probably some 5 000 child-care workers in the State, and that covers people in centre-based care, home-based care, and so on. If you actually look at the membership of the child-care reference group committee, we estimate that some 4 400 of those child-care workers in the State are represented by those bodies that were on the reference group. I am aware that on many occasions throughout that whole process members of that group - because they appreciated that they were not members of that group to express their individual concerns and ideas about the bill but that they were there representing their organisations - went off and consulted. For example, there was a question that arose very early on during the process which related to the employment of persons under the age of eighteen to work in child-care centres and the group had a discussion paper or I guess a questionnaire or survey that went out to various people.
We had a draft bill that went to the group some four or six weeks ago and, similarly, members of the organisation then consulted with others in their organisations in relation to the bill. In addition to that, there have been three newsletters that group has produced and each one of those newsletters has gone to about 1 000 child-care workers within the industry and that has been giving updates on the decisions the group has been making, so we have gone through each of the individual issues and that is an important point that needs to be remembered.
Of the 417 submissions that were received through the public consultation process, we compiled a list of each of the individual issues that were raised. There were 83 issues that related to the legislation and the standards combined. The group went through systematically and ticked off on each of those 83 issues. In some cases it was only something that required an explanation of the way legislation is framed and termed because we know that the terminology in legislation can sometimes be a little awkward to the layperson.
Mr Fry - That wasn't our problem, it was our lack of opportunity to do the same.
Ms WRIEDT - So I am confident that we have gone through a process that has been open and fair to ensure that as many people as possible could be involved and, as I said, I am very grateful to the members of that group for the way they have gone about that work. I feel confident that they have represented the organisations they were there to represent and that they have done so by consulting with their members.
I do not accept that we are pushing this legislation through; as we all know, it has been a long time coming. Certainly I have spoken to members of the reference group at our most recent meeting and they are very keen to see this legislation pass through the House.
Mr Fry - That wasn't our criticism at all; it was the fact that we haven't had an opportunity to scrutinise it.
Ms WRIEDT - If that was not the criticism then why did I get a phone call from you during the lunchbreak seeking to have this matter adjourned?
Mr Fry - Because we haven't had the opportunity to talk with those people.
Ms WRIEDT - We are quite within Standing Orders. We brought the bill in two days ago. It has matured, it has not been brought in under suspension of Standing Orders -
Mr Fry - We're not saying you're not. It's a major piece of legislation and it deserves the fullest scrutiny.
Ms WRIEDT - so we are quite in accordance with the rules of this House.
Mr Fry - We're not disputing that.
Ms WRIEDT - I did not realise there was anything to say, that a bill over so many pages might be so difficult for you that you need more time to consult on it.
Opposition members interjecting.
Ms WRIEDT - I mean, fair crack of the whip - two years is two years.
Mrs Napier - That's an overreaction, Minister, and you know that.
Ms WRIEDT - What?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, the minister has the call. Other members were heard in silence and I would ask you to give her the same courtesy.
Ms WRIEDT - Mr Deputy Speaker, there were a number of other issues raised that I would like to address. One relates to a matter that was raised in relation to the degree of education that was required of carers. I assume you are talking about the qualifications of carers in the various licences.
Mr Fry - There were two issues: what programs are going to be mandated for the children?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order. The member will have time later for that because he has indicated he wants to go into committee.
Ms WRIEDT - Sorry, it just seems appropriate -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Well, Minister, you are making things very difficult if you are going to start asking questions of the Opposition.
Ms WRIEDT - All right. Obviously it will be something we will need to address during the committee stage but it was my understanding that the query related to the qualifications of carers and whether there would be different qualifications of carers applied for different types of licences and certainly that would be the case and the standards would make it very clear what qualifications were required.
There was a question raised about the standards and how they would be changed. There is contained in the legislation clause 47(3)(m) which specifies what the standards must include. In their complete form one of the things that they must address is how they would be changed so I think if there is a revocation amendment - clause 47(3)(m) says, 'amendment, revocation and substitution of the Standards'.
So the standards themselves have to make clear how it is that they are to be changed. It would certainly be my wish and it is a matter that the legislation reference group has discussed. As members would be aware, the standards are not complete. It is a very big job. In fact there has been somebody who has been a member of the reference group whom we have employed on a part-time basis to assist in the rewriting of those standards because one of the things that we became very much aware of during the consultation process was that they need to be written in a much more user-friendly way for people within the industry. Somebody has been working on those and then coming back to the reference group.
That process is continuing. Yesterday we ticked off on the standards for outside-school-hours care. We had hoped that we would have had them completed in so far as the text was concerned by the time the legislation came into the House but it is a bigger job than we envisaged. We had hoped that it would be the last meeting of the child-care reference group this week. That is not going to be possible because we have had sub-committees of that group who have worked on the standards we discussed at the meeting on Tuesday whether that group should continue after the legislation is through to finish off that work and the continuity there of the people who have been involved. Certainly we agreed that we would meet again in a couple of weeks' time to look at the next set of standards, I think it was home-based care and then centre-based care. That work will continue.
Then I envisage that, after that group has been dissolved when the standards have been finally printed, the advisory council that is to be established under this legislation would have a role to play in any amendment or revocation or substitution of the standards. That was something that the group concurred with.
The powers of the secretary have also been raised: that they are excessive. Members of the House would be aware that that is a standard provision in relation to the act's having to delegate the powers to somebody and that they are delegating them to the relevant heads of agencies, so certainly the Child Care Act is no exception in that regard. Certainly the parts of it relating to, for example, the operation of listening devices and electronic recording equipment and so on, that can only occur in accordance with the Listening Devices Act of which year I cannot recall but certainly, as we know under that act, a listening device can only be granted by a magistrate on application of a member of the Tasmanian police force at sergeant level or above. So there is no scope under the legislation for the secretary to install something outside those provisions that still have to be operating under the law.
The member for Denison, Ms Putt, raised the question of what happens to evidence that is collected during an inspection visit or evidence that is collected as part of an application for a licence to be granted. All information that is submitted or collected as part of those processes would remain on the file of the child-care unit but that is subject to protection from relief under the Freedom of Information Act because it relates to personal information, so it could not be FOI'd by anybody. The exception to that is information that is related to safety screening. The safety screening certificate as such would be kept on file but any other information that is provided by Tasmania Police through the safety screening process is destroyed once it is cited and a determination has been made.
Ms Putt - Is there going to be an amendment to -
Ms WRIEDT - I am advised that that is a standard protocol that exists right across departments when they have to undertake police checks. Certainly it would be the same for example with teacher registration, that was recently passed; I went back and checked there was not a specific provision within the act about destroying that information but it is a protocol that is well established right across government agencies.
Ms Putt - But there's something on file to say the check has been done but the actual fingerprints or whatever are destroyed.
Ms WRIEDT - Yes. But the actual stuff required, whether it is fingerprints to confirm somebody's identity, that would be destroyed, because there would just remain the safety screen certificate. Any documents that are seized during an inspection under clause 39 would be returned when no longer needed by the secretary, so they would be returned to whoever they had been retrieved from. Just in relation to the destruction, I am advised that it is actually conducted under the Archives Act, section 11, so there is a provision within the context of that act.
Another matter that was raised related to the establishment of the advisory council and why the wording was that the minister 'may' establish an advisory council and not 'must'. That was once again an issue that arose through the consultation process and that we discussed at some length. Certainly the reference group considered advice that was provided by Parliamentary Counsel that the convention was that legislation did not bind ministers through the use of the word 'must', and that the word needed to be 'may'. I have questioned that because I thought it would be sensible to have the word 'must', but I am sure as members who have dealings - and it is no reflection on Parliamentary Counsel, but we are told on occasion that particular words need to -
Mrs Swan - Didn't we just redefine the Acts Definition Act and the Acts Interpretation Act to attend to that?
Ms WRIEDT - Sorry?
Mrs Swan - I thought we just fixed the Acts Interpretation Act to fix that.
Ms WRIEDT - That is the latest advice. We checked again this morning with Parliamentary Counsel and they still stand by that advice, that it is 'may' and not 'must' and so that is why the decision was made. But certainly I state very clearly that in the time that I am Minister for Education I would certainly establish an advisory group. I would be mad not to, because the process we have just been through has been a valuable one. It is a very easy one, and certainly I have already sought advice as to how soon I can advertise for membership of that advisory group. I will be calling for expressions of interest from people from within the child-care sector to nominate to be on that body, and I have asked how soon I can do that. Do I have to wait until the act is proclaimed, or can I do it when it has passed through both Houses of Parliament? I would think that subsequent ministers would avail themselves of that opportunity also.
In relation to home-based care, the member for Bass asked whether if you wanted somebody to provide child care within your own home you could inspect a register to find out if that person is licensed. Yes, there is a provision under clause 64 that allows inspection of the register to check the status of somebody.
Another question that was raised was in relation to babysitters. Before we get onto babysitters, I think something that is probably related to what the member for Bass raised is the question of whether it is child care provided by an aunt or an uncle or someone like that. We would not be seeking to include those people, because it makes it clear that it is not a person who is a close relative. We are not seeking to regulate that type of relationship.
Mrs Napier - What about other people, friends of the family?
Ms WRIEDT - That is a private relationship between yourself and the carer. If you wanted to pay somebody to look after your children, under the home-based care classification of licence you could ask that person to apply for a licence if you wanted to, but you do not have to. It is up to you. If you want to make a private arrangement between -
Mrs Napier - Okay, so I've got a choice. I think the bill doesn't give me that. I am pleased that is the interpretation, but I don't think your bill does that.
Ms WRIEDT - No, we have checked quite clearly that private arrangements are private arrangements.
Mrs Swan - But your definition is faulty if that is the case. You will have to change your definition.
Ms WRIEDT - Not as far as we are concerned. We believe that private arrangements are such and certainly when we get to that clause I will be happy to have that discussion with you.
Mrs Napier - It is good that there is choice.
Ms WRIEDT - The other thing that was discussed was whether we would be including babysitters and certainly there is no intention to include babysitters.
A babysitting agency would be included. So if it was under the type of licence for an approved registration body because they are a body that is then providing a service in terms of contracting out that service in the way that a family-day-care scheme comes under an approved registration body.
Certainly, babysitters, no, we are not trying to be over-regulative and prevent somebody from choosing that the teenager down the road who comes and looks after their child and they pay them however many -
Mr Fry - Where's that covered?
Ms WRIEDT - To do that we would have to apply an exemption. The bill allows for an exemption to be given under any of the three types of classes of licences and exemptions are authorised under clause 7(1). It is one of the issues that the reference group discussed at some length, so we would provide an exemption for babysitting and babysitting would be distinguished from licensed home-based care by a description that would be contained in the standard and also in the wording of the exemption.
Mrs Napier - Why not put it in the bill and make it clear?
Mr Fry - Absolutely.
Mrs Jackson - That's overregulation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order. We are going into committee, let us deal with it there.
Ms WRIEDT - Yes, all right I do not want to delay too long.
But certainly if it was a babysitting agency, yes, they would be covered under an approved registration body but we would not be seeking to register babysitters as we are not seeking to license adjunct care. Adjunct care, of course, is - as members would be aware - care that is provided - I guess the most common place you would find adjunct care is attached to swimming pools, gymnasiums, some forms of business that offer child minding for a period of time while the parents are on site. Churches as well - there are a number of other places that classify as adjunct care. We would be seeking to exempt adjunct care also.
The other matter that was raised concerned whether we would prevent a hotel or a casino or some other place of gambling from establishing a child-care facility. Certainly if a hotel or a casino applied for licensed child care, they would have to meet the standard for the type of licence that they are applying for. It depends on what they would be applying for, whether they would be applying to be adjunct care or whether they would be applying to be a centre-based care. If they were, say, looking at providing a type of centre-based care, they would have to meet the standards to the nth degree in relation to the sort of environment that the children were in and, of course, make sure that the interests of the children were protected. If they went down the path of wanting to be classified as adjunct care, that is something that they would have to let parents know.
One of the things that we are also doing within standards is producing a booklet on some guidelines for adjunct care because it would be the feeling of the group that, whilst we did not want to license adjunct care, there should be some minimum requirements in there. For example, that there be a safety screen of the person who is in charge of the children and also that a person on the premises has a current first-aid certificate.
It is proposed that adjunct care be a situation where parents are remaining on the premises. For example, if you go to the morning class at the pool where I do water aerobics, they offer what they call free child minding. There is a room that is off the pool and somebody there who looks after the children but you are on site all the time. I think there were guidelines that we determined that it had a time line attached to a maximum of three hours.
I know it was not a scenario that I thought of previously in relation to casinos operating child-care centres, or pubs, and I probably share concerns that perhaps they are not an ideal environment. But then you weigh it up against some things that have occurred and you look at incidents interstate where unfortunately parents who have heeded the call of gambling, if there is such a thing, have left their children unattended in cars, and the terrible things that you do read of there, one wonders if -
Mr Fry - That's unacceptable as well.
Ms WRIEDT - Yes, that is highly unacceptable, and you wonder if perhaps there had been a child-care centre or a facility such as adjunct care available to those parents, they would have used that.
There is an interesting case that I have become aware of in the last few years where a major suburban shopping centre had a play area attached to the supermarket. There was a sort of indoor play area like you see at McDonalds, with slides and things like that. They had to close that down because parents were taking their children there, leaving them there to play on the equipment and going to the nearby pub for a few hours. These children were there totally on their own. It was not why that area was established by the shopping centre. It was there to be used for twenty minutes while mum or dad nipped into the supermarket. That was very concerning and that led to them making the decision to close that down, even though they thought it was an attractive facility for their shoppers. They closed that down. It is a very interesting scenario, that one.
I can see the benefits of having child-care centres or child-care facilities attached to places such as a casino, but I can also see the downside. I do not know whether it is a place we want to be taking children and leaving them while mum and dad go off to gamble. I am not aware of any inquiries that the child-care unit has had from hotels or casinos or clubs in recent years as to whether they might establish such a facility, but they would certainly have to meet the appropriate standards according to the class of licence that they are applying for.
Mr Fry - So you're not going to rule it out?
Ms WRIEDT - I cannot rule it out because it relates to the legislation, but bear in mind that the standards set highlight a number of criteria that need to be satisfied. It may be that they cannot satisfy those criteria because it also talks about social development of children and a whole range of things, so it may be that they might not be able to satisfy that, being an unsuitable venue from the viewpoint of some of those standards.
Finally, before we move into committee, there was the question of resources for the child-care unit. Certainly we appreciate that because we are bringing in a number of areas of the child-care sector that have not previously been the domain of the child-care unit; for example, outside-school-hours care, vacation care, and so on. Certainly there would be additional resources that we would be putting into the child-care unit in terms of people, and to carry out the licensing processes. We have not put a figure on that as yet. There would be some small amount of money that is raised through the licence fees that people who are applying for a licence would have to pay, but I would say it would be just a small proportion. Most fees have been discussed at length with the members of the reference group and decided upon to come up with the most equitable scale of fees as we can so we make sure that we do not actually disadvantage some of the smaller centres or some of those services that operate a variety of centres.
Also I guess some of the revenue from those fees would be offset by the costs involved in establishing the appeals panel and also the advisory body. Members of the advisory body, although they would not be paid positions in terms of sitting fees, would certainly have travel expenses and other incidental expenses in relation to their work in that group would be paid for them. So there would be expenses there but, as I said, we would certainly find that money within the resources of the Education Department and provide that to the child-care unit.
Mr Deputy Speaker, before we move into committee I just wanted to foreshadow a couple of amendments that I have here, which I will circulate to the Opposition. I guess they clarify a couple of points that were made to us during the briefing yesterday from members who were present. The first one relates to an amendment to clause 15 and it relates to the question of the fingerprints and palm prints and things like that. We are just adding some words that make it clear that those things would be taken for the purposes of a report by the Commissioner for Police so it is clear for what reason those things are being actually taken and it is not for just any reason, but really to satisfy the safety screen.
There was also a query raised yesterday during the briefing in relation to whether the appeal panel could have the right to review not only the initial grant of a licence but the renewal of a licence and as to whether the terminology that was in the bill under clause 50 actually covered that. So we are just adding the words 'or renew' to make it very clear. Certainly, Parliamentary Counsel advised they believed it did incorporate both the initial licence application and also the renewal but we are just adding the word 'renew' there.
The last one that I would be seeking to move, also in relation to clause 50, relates to a letter of censure. There was some discussion about why a letter of censure that relates to the dismissal or suspension of an employee was not appealable also and we have incorporated that to make sure that it is appealable because we realise that that was actually an omission. I certainly thank members for drawing that to our attention. With that, I will sit down.
Bill read the second time.