DLP in 2015: Summary of Rachel Carling-Jenkins’ work in parliament and the community

As 2015 comes to a close, here is a summary of some of the work that the DLP has been doing in the Parliament of Victoria, through our member Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins. Rachel has now spent one year in office, having been elected to the Victorian Legislative Council (upper house) at the 2014 Victorian State Election. The DLP is extremely pleased with Rachel’s high work ethic and unfailing commitment to DLP principles and to workers, families, communities and life. Thank you, Rachel, for the tremendous work you have done so far, and all the very best for 2016!

 

DLP introduces Infant Viability Bill into Victorian Parliament

Seven years after Victoria introduced the most extreme abortion laws in the world, the DLP, less than a year after being elected, is delivering on its election promise to begin the process of remedying these laws. In October, Rachel introduced the Infant Viability Bill, a “Bill for an Act to ensure the provision of access to holistic care and support to pregnant women and preborn children so as to promote infant viability, to amend the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 and Crimes Act 1958, to make consequential amendments to certain other Acts and for other purposes.” Under this Bill:

  1. Abortions would no longer be allowed from the 24th week of pregnancy
  2. Infant viability will be promoted and supported (all infants born alive form the 24th week of pregnancy onwards, including as the result of a medical emergency, must be cared for with the intent to save the infant’s life if at all possible)
  3. Mothers who present in distress to their doctor in this later stage of pregnancy, must be offered practical support. For example, a referral to a pregnancy support service offering holistic care (such as counselling, social and practical support)
  4. Penalties will be introduced for physicians who breach the new laws and for medical facilities in which the laws are breached. Mothers will not be criminalised or face any penalties.

Debate on the bill will take place in 2016. Keep a close on this website or www.rachelmp.com.au for updates.

 

DLP establishes inquiry to improve perinatal services

In September, Rachel succeeded with her motion to establish an inquiry on the health, care and wellbeing of mothers and babies in Victoria during the perinatal period. Throughout the year, Rachel has visited hospitals, held discussions with doctors, nurses and mothers, and reviewed the academic literature on this matter. It became very clear that an inquiry was needed to address a range of issues, gaps, deficiencies and disparities to ensure that all mothers and their babies in Victoria are able to receive nothing less than world best practice during the perinatal period. The DLP received support for this initiative from the Minister for Health as well as the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.

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DLP succeeds in boosting the level of government procurement from disability enterprises

In June, Rachel succeeded with her motion in parliament to boost the level of procurement from Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs). People with a disability make a significant contribution to Victoria and ADEs supply high quality products and services. However, Many ADEs have been experiencing acute financial pressure due to the challenges of providing tailored employment for people with a disability in a highly competitive environment. Organisations like National Disability Services have been advocating for quite some time for a greater level of Victorian Government procurement from ADEs. This is an important step forward in ensuring that the employment opportunities for people with disabilities are emphasised and expanded.

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DLP fighting for workers against unscrupulous contractors

In May, Rachel called on the Treasurer to examine the current tendering system to ensure that Victoria’s construction companies and contractors are given a fair chance at winning a contract on a level playing field. Unscrupulous operators have not been providing their employees with the correct wage, entitlements and conditions by getting them to set up their own ABNs. This has enabled them to win tenders by putting in much cheaper bids. This has come at a huge economic and social cost for hundreds, if indeed not thousands, of Victorian workers. Pleasingly, the Victorian Government responded positively and has launched an inquiry.

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DLP combatting homelessness

Throughout the year, Rachel has advocated for the establishment of crisis accommodation in the Wyndham local council area within her electorate. Working with members of the H3 Wyndham Alliance (an alliance of organisations committed to addressing homelessness in Wyndham), Rachel called upon the Government to seriously consider and act upon the Alliance’s proposal for a crisis intervention and service hub. We are pleased that the Government has responded (albeit with only a small step forward) to begin the process of funding the Alliance’s proposal. No person should have to experience homelessness because of a lack of emergency accommodation.

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DLP succeeds in fight for fair and unbiased funding for non-government schools

In February, the Victorian Government introduced legislation to guarantee a minimum amount of government funding for non-government schools. However, the Minister for Education would have been able to impose whatever conditions on funding he decided were ‘reasonable conditions’. Thanks to the DLP’s efforts and following intense negotiations with the Minister, the Victorian Government agreed to abide by all the major principles we put forward. Most importantly, the Government put a guarantee on the record that conditions will not be imposed that would intentionally oppose any of the fundamental principles, objectives or governing laws of the non-government schools under consideration for funding. Further, the School Policy and Funding Advisory Council will now comprise representatives from the Catholic Education Commission and Independent Schools Victoria nominated by those organisations, rather than appointed by the Education Minister.

 

DLP stops push to legalise euthanasia and turns it into important end-of-life inquiry

In May, the DLP worked hard to ensure that motions supporting euthanasia by the Greens and Australian Sex Party either lapsed or were left useless. This was achieved following negotiations with the Government to instead support an inquiry that would look into end-of-life issues more holistically and address pressing issues in palliative care, advanced care directives, and elder abuse. Similar inquiries in other states and jurisdictions, when sufficiently resourced to give proper consideration to all evidence brought before it, have strongly recommended against legalising euthanasia. Click to view Rachel’s contribution to this debate.

 

DLP speaks out against false narrative behind “Safe Access Zones” bill

In November the Victorian parliament passed a law that essentially criminalises all forms of pro-life activity within 150 metres of any premises at which abortions take place, including GP clinics that dispense RU486. Any activity which causes intimidation or distress to a person in the zone can be reported to the police, and the offenders can be charged as much as 120 penalty units (over $18,000) or up to 12 months imprisonment. Despite many important questions remaining unanswered, including a lack of clarity over whether or not the act of praying in the zone could constitute an offence, the bill was supported by a vast majority of upper house MPs. Only a small handful, included Rachel, voted against the bill. The DLP maintains that the narrative underlying this bill is based largely on a false narrative.

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DLP succeeds in achieving funding for community development

In May, Rachel advocated for the Werribee Football Club’s redevelopment of their home ground facilities. Since 2008 the club has been working with Wyndham City Council, the AFL and AFL Victoria to obtain the funding required to appropriately renovate and upgrade its home facilities at Avalon Airport oval. However, uncertainty about whether or not the government would chip in to support the project left the club in limbo. Rachel lobbied the Minister for Sport to provide a clear commitment on the provision of funding to this project. In October, the Government followed through and provided the funding to see the project realised. The redevelopment will benefit not only the club but also the wider community by bringing facilities up to modern standards, incorporating community spaces and enabling the hosting of first division women’s and girls’ matches and finals. Many community groups are already waiting to use the redeveloped facilities, and no longer will female umpires have to change in the toilets as there will now be female changing rooms. This redevelopment will be a huge boost for the local community.

 

Some more of the work in parliament:

Safety in the Workplace for Disability Support Workers
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Questions/ID/73/Safety-in-the-Workplace-for-Disability-Support-Wokers

Disability Services and Inclusion of People with Disabilities
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Speeches/ID/1/Disability-Services

Transparency and Accountability around funding from Kew Residential Services Redevelopment
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Questions/ID/94/Kew-Residential-Services-Redevelopment-where-has-the-money-gone  and http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Questions/ID/85/Is-Money-from-the-Sale-of-Land-at-Kew-Cottages-going-Back-to-Disability-Services

Advocating for appropriate Police Resources in Wyndham
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Speeches/ID/79/Lack-of-Police-Resources-in-the-Wyndham-City-Council-area

Improving Access to Services for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Speeches/ID/40/Improve-Access-to-Services-for-Refugees-and-Asylum-Seekers

Tribute to former DLP MP Frank Scully
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Speeches/ID/63/Condolence-Speech-for-Former-Victorian-DLP-MP-Frank-Scully

Democratic Labour Party’s 60 Year Anniversary
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Speeches/ID/18/Democratic-Labour-Party

Voicing concerns about the Safe Schools Coalition Program
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/Media/News-Articles/ID/92/Concerns-about-Safe-Schools-Coalition-Program

Debate on the Adoption Amendment (Adoption by Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2015 http://www.rachelmp.com.au/Media/News-Articles/ID/91/Adoption-Amendment-Adoption-by-Same-Sex-Couples-Bill-2015

Exposing the lack of consultation in the scrapping of Special Religious Instruction
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/Media/News-Articles/ID/90/The-scrapping-of-Special-Religious-Instruction-undertake-proper-Consultation

Social Procurement Strategies for Councils
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Questions/ID/61/Social-Procurement-Strategies-for-Councils

Men’s Mental Health
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Speeches/ID/58/Mens-Mental-Health

Solidarity with West Papuans
http://www.rachelmp.com.au/In-Parliament/Speeches/ID/99/Rachel-calls-for-Solidarity-Day-to-support-West-Papuans

 

Parliamentary Committees

Rachel has served as a member of two parliamentary committees: the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, and the Economy and Infrastructure Committee. These committees have worked on a number of important inquiries this past year, including the 2015-16 Budget Estimates, the Performance Audit of VAGO 2015-16, and the Inquiry into Infrastructure Projects.

 

Community Engagement

Throughout the year, Rachel has visited many organisations, industries, services and constituents in her electorate and indeed across Victoria to gain a deeper understanding of the issues they face. Some of these include the Newborn Intensive and Special Care Unit at the Royal Women’s Hospital, the Victorian forestry and timber industry, disability services and enterprises, the Werribee Football Club, the Bus Association and CDC Victoria, the Sunshine branch of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, child and family health services, the Wyndham Community and Education Centre, residential services, conferences, forums, rallies, and many meetings with constituents and lobby groups.