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Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Amendment (Worker Screening Database) Bill 2019

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2019

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Amendment (Worker Screening Database) Bill 2019

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of

Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie MP



Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Amendment (Worker Screening Database) Bill 2019

 

 

OUTLINE

 

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Amendment (Worker Screening Database) Bill 2019 (Bill) amends the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 (Act) to establish a database for nationally consistent worker screening, for the purpose of minimising the risk of harm to older Australians from those who work closely with them.

 

The Bill will require all workers and volunteers in the aged care sector to undergo a screening process with their details then registered on a national database operated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

 

The database will enable employers, and potential employers, to search the database to screen potential employees for any history of misconduct.

 

Information entered into the database will include an individual’s criminal history, involvement in any reportable incidents under the existing compulsory reporting scheme and any disciplinary proceedings and complaints.

 

The entries on the database will be real time information and should serve as a ‘red flag’ for potential employers.

 

The introduction of a nationally consistent worker screening program was recommended by the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission report into Elder Abuse.

 

The successful implementation of the scheme will require the States and Territories to also enact laws regarding screening and the sharing of necessary information, similar to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Nationally Consistent Worker Screening under the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme national worker screening database.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The bill will have no financial impact.

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1: Short Title

 

Clause 1 provides for the Bill, once enacted, to be cited as the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Amendment (Worker Screening Database) Act 2019 .

 

 

Clause 2: Commencement

 

Clause 2 provides for the Bill to commence the day after the Act receives Royal Assent.

 

 

Clause 3: Schedules

 

Clause 3 provides that legislation specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed as set out in that Schedule.

 

Schedule 1 - Amendments

 

Item 1

 

Item 1 inserts new definitions into the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018.

 

Item 2

 

Item 2 provides that the Minister may determine that a State or Territory law is an ‘aged care worker screening law’. It is intended that the States and Territories will also enact laws regarding screening of aged care workers and the sharing of necessary information between State and Commonwealth agencies.

 

Item 3

 

Inserts a new Part 6A to establish an aged care worker screening database.

 

Section 54A provides a simplified outline of the new Part 6A.

 

Subsection 54B(1) requires the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner to establish, operate and maintain an aged care worker screening database.

 

Subsection 54B(2) provides that the database must be in electronic form.

 

Subsection 54B(3)  provides that the purpose of the database is to maintain an up to date record of persons who have been found, in working or seeking to work with aged care consumers, to pose or not pose a risk to such people. It also enables the sharing of information in the database with persons or bodies (including employers and potential employers) that deal with people who work, or seek to work, with aged care consumers.

 

Subsection 54B(4) provides that the objects of the worker screening database are not  limited by those listed in subsection 54B(3).

 

Subsection 54B(5) and subsection 54B(6) set out the information intended to be included in the aged care worker screening database including:

 

·          information relating to persons who have made an application to be screened, who have withdrawn an application and persons who have successfully been cleared under an aged care worker screening law.

 

·          information relating to any decisions made under an aged care worker screening law, in relation to each screening applicant, while the screening applicant’s application is pending or decided; and

 

·          information relating to employers or potential employers of persons who have made screening applications.

Subsection 54B(7) states that the information to be included on the worker screening database may include personal information (within the meaning of the Privacy Act 1988 ).

 

Subsection 54B(8) provides that the Minister may determine by legislative instrument additional information to be included in the aged care worker screening database or additional purpose for the aged care worker screening database.

 

Subsection 54B(9) provides that the aged care worker screening database is not a legislative instrument.

 

Item 4

 

Item 4 provides that personal information contained in the Worker Screening database may only be disclosed to such persons and for such purposes as the Commissioner determines necessary for the operation or maintenance of the aged care worker screening database.



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Amendment (Worker Screening Database) Bill 2019

 

This bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the bill

 

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Amendment (Worker Screening Database) Bill 2019 (Bill) amends the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 (Act) to establish a database for nationally consistent worker screening, for the purpose of minimising the risk of harm to older Australians from those who work closely with them.

 

The Bill will require all workers and volunteers in the aged care sector to undergo a screening process with their details then registered on a national database operated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

 

The database will enable employers, and potential employers, to search the database to screen potential employees for any history of misconduct.

 

Information entered into the database will include an individual’s criminal history, involvement in any reportable incidents under the existing compulsory reporting scheme and any disciplinary proceedings and complaints.

 

The entries on the database will be real time information and should serve as a ‘red flag’ for potential employers.

 

The introduction of a nationally consistent worker screening program was recommended by the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission report into Elder Abuse.

 

The successful implementation of the scheme will require the States and Territories to also enact laws regarding screening and the sharing of necessary information, similar to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Nationally Consistent Worker Screening under the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme national worker screening database.

 

Human rights implications

 

While the primary purpose of the Bill is to protect vulnerable older Australians from abuse in all its forms the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in the Worker Screening Database may result in the exclusion of a person from employment, which engages the right to work and the right to privacy.

 

However, these are permissible limitations designed to protect the human rights of older Australians.

 

Furthermore, the range of information, and its use, is limited to that which is necessary for the performance of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner’s functions and for the purposes of the database as set out in the Bill.

 

 

Conclusion

 

This bill is compatible with human rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie MP