Child-care workers and activists criticised the Law Reform Commission's proposed 'voluntary scheme' of background checks on child-care workers as ineffective. The subcommittee reviewing sexual offences yesterday initiated a public consultation on setting up a sex-offender registry and proposed a modest scheme that could be realised with no legislative amendment. But child-care workers said that despite the commission's hope the scheme could be set up without delay, it might still be years before it came into effect. Under the proposal, employers in child services could be able to obtain records of prospective employees if they had committed any sexual offences. The employer would also be told by police if the prospective employee had a clean record. But the background check has to be initiated by the prospective employee. Susan So Suk-yin, director of the Society for the Protection of Children, which runs 26 child and family centres, questioned whether a job seeker would take the initiative to do their own background checks. Ms So also noted that only records of sexual offences could be made available and not records of child abuse. 'Why can't you let the employer make the application? They can still have the job seeker sign consent forms first,' she said. Priscilla Lui Tsang Sun-kai, director of Against Child Abuse, said her agency cared about protection of children and rehabilitation of offenders. 'But having said that, I feel a lot of the time our priorities here always seem to be about the protection of the second concern (the rehabilitation of offenders), rather than the protection of children,' she said. She also doubted the proposed scheme would be set up as quickly as claimed, with the consultation ending at the end of October and the subsequent report typically taking one to two years. The government then had to respond to the report. 'What concerns me even more is the government's response,' Mrs Lui said, questioning why it could not take the legislative route. 'Why should legislation be such a long process? It just shows that this is not on the top of government priorities. I hope to see more political will.' Ray Rudowski, who has been campaigning to have a convicted child molester banned from the club house at the Laguna Verde development, said the paper was a good first step but ignored vital areas of concern. 'There seems to be too much emphasis on the rights of the accused and not enough on their responsibilities. 'This guy was free to roam around and wander anywhere he liked while he was on bail. Would you let your child into a place where there was a convicted child molester using the pool or change room?' Commission secretary Stuart Stoker said the example above 'highlights the conflicting and legitimate interests' of protecting children while rehabilitating offenders.