Volunteer Screening Checks

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (14:38): My question is to the Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing. Can the minister explain how the government is making it faster and less expensive for volunteers to get screening checks in South Australia?

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (14:38): I thank the member for Hammond for his question and must acknowledge the fine work he does in his constituency up around the Murray Bridge region and beyond and also the fine work he does here in this parliament. As the whip on our side of the house, he really is a very dedicated member of this place and he does, as I said, look after his constituency incredibly well. He is very, very concerned, as we all are on this side, about the high cost-of-living prices that South Australians have had to endure through the previous terms of the Labor government. It really has put South Australia on the back foot.

What I want to talk about here, as the member points out, is the great work that we are doing to reduce the cost of living by helping with the clearance checks for volunteers. We know that especially in the regions volunteering is incredibly important and does really make our state do wonderfully well on so many levels. There are more than 920,000 South Australians who volunteer each year, and many of those are in the sport and recreation industry.

We know that sport and rec is largely driven by the not-for-profit volunteer organisations. Volunteers in the sport and recreation industry do everything from coaching to sitting on boards, preparing food, marshalling for big events, putting on carnivals and the like. I am sure most people in this house would have been involved in that sort of work.

Voluntary work makes an important contribution to the South Australian way of life, and it's very much a big part of our culture. It is a great opportunity to thank all the volunteers who do that outstanding work. It enables many organisations such as sporting clubs to meet the demands for their services. Many sporting clubs could not exist without the support of volunteers, and I think we are all aware of that.

The cost of screening checks for volunteers has been identified as a potential barrier for volunteerism and involvement in sport and the recreation industry. I think we know that, without our volunteers, that would be a major setback for this part of the industry. Completing compulsory background screening checks can get cost prohibitive, with South Australia having, under the former Labor government, the highest application fees in the nation at $58.30. That's what it cost under the former Labor government.

Four jurisdictions—Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory—don't impose any fee for volunteers seeking a Working With Children Check. Tasmania just charges $18.60; Western Australia, $11; and the Northern Territory, $6. Volunteers provide much-needed care and support in our communities, and we want to remove all barriers to people volunteering. That's why the Marshall Liberal government is removing the fee so that we are more in line with the other states. We don't need to be the highest cost jurisdiction when it comes to volunteering like we have been under the previous Labor government in so many jurisdictions as well.

We will abolish the fees for volunteer screening checks, and that is a great outcome for all South Australia and, in particular, in the member for Hammond's electorate and right throughout the regions, because in the regions we know that volunteering is very, very extensive. This government understands, and we all understand on this side, the importance of involvement in sport, whether it's as an active participant or a volunteer, and that's very important, too. When you get a bit older, your knees blow out and you can't move as well; you can get out and you can be involved.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD: Okay, that's me.

An honourable member: Speak for yourself, Corey.

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD: That is me, but I do love getting to my local footy club and helping run water or doing whatever I can. The water doesn't get there very quickly, but it does get out and the young people stay hydrated, so that's important.

This commitment to make volunteer screening checks free is just one of a suite of commitments made by the Marshall government to reduce the cost barriers associated with participation in the sport and recreation industry, and we are very proud of it. It will help families, it will reduce the cost burden on families and sporting organisations and it will be good for South Australia.