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Thank you for visiting my office’s website. This site is one of the best ways for us to provide people with advice and guidance. It provides information about our broad range of roles, responsibilities and functions, as well as allowing people to access our publications, including reports to Parliament, guidelines and fact sheets. We are always looking to make our site more accessible and useful. If you have an idea or a suggestion, please send us an email.
The new year brings a series of new and exciting opportunities. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has announced that a new Deputy Ombudsman for Aboriginal Affairs will be created within our office. This position will be responsible for leading our work in ensuring that Aboriginal communities across NSW are receiving appropriate, targeted, place-based services. We have been advised that legislation will be going before the Parliament when it resumes sitting at the end of February. This will of course be followed by a recruitment process, with the Deputy expected to start with the office in July. The creation of this position is a recognition of the work of our office for more than ten years to develop strong, lasting links with both communities and service providers and to work with them to find ways of overcoming difficulty and disadvantage.
We may also soon begin our new role in relation to allegations of abuse and neglect in relation to people with disability living in care. The Disability Inclusion Bill has been available for public consideration and comment since the end of last year. We are currently finalising our submission on the draft Bill, which will be provided to the Minister for Disability Services. Among other changes, the Bill will: impose reporting obligations on the Director-General and principal officers of other service providers in relation to reportable allegations or reportable convictions; allow our office to monitor the progress of investigations of such allegations; require us to keep relevant systems under scrutiny and, where appropriate, conduct direct investigations into such allegations or the handling of allegations.
And finally, we have started work on a number of new legislative reviews. Changes to the Firearms Act 1996 and the Restricted Premises Act 1943 in 2013 provided us with review roles. The changes to these Acts are part of a suite of legislative amendments aimed at targeting and disrupting criminal organisations’ activity. We are in the early stages of both reviews, and are currently identifying the information requirements. This will ensure NSW Police Force are capturing what we believe we will need from the beginning of the review period.
I am confident the year ahead will involve not only these, but other challenges and opportunities for me and all the staff of my office.