The ACT Government is to establish a panel of experts to support its proposed new background checking legislation for persons working with vulnerable people.


ACT Minister for Community Services Joy Burch said the Government would be amending its Background Checking legislation, which will be debated in the Legislative Assembly next week, to enhance to the checking process.


If passed, the Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Bill 2010 will establish a regulatory framework for the background checking and risk assessment of people working - or volunteering - with children or vulnerable adults in the ACT.


While the legislation already allows for a risk-based approach for workers, Ms Burch said the panel would provide greater industry knowledge to the decision-making process.


"I will seek to amend the Bill to establish a panel of experts to provide advice to the Commissioner about role-based checks under the new system," Ms Burch said.


The amendment follows recommendations by the Community Sector Peak body ACTCOSS and other organisations during consultations, which involved a roundtable, forums, meetings, submissions, draft guidelines and a discussion paper.


If passed, the Bill will provide for the first time in the ACT a comprehensive statutory system of criminal history background checks for people working with children and vulnerable adults.


It is estimated that around 2000 people in religious groups, 13,000 community services workers and volunteers, and 4100 people involved in clubs, associations and movements will have to be checked under the new system.


Checks for employees will incur a small, Government-subsidised and tax-deductible fee of $71, while volunteers will not be charged. Registrations will have to be renewed every three years.

If passed, a staged transition of the new checking system would begin from 2012.