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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 202..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

provided to the OCA by the Chief Executive. Assessing a child or young person to be unsafe at the conclusion of Family Services' appraisal does not-

she underlined "does not"-

necessarily mean that the child or young person was unsafe, or, more importantly, that the child or young person is currently unsafe.

I hope that that answers this question for you.

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Mrs Burke?

MRS BURKE: Yes, thank you, Mr Speaker. In light of the letter received which says:

Because the reports were not received by us in a timely manner, we cannot say, until we examine the file, whether or not the child or young person is safe-

MR SPEAKER: Preamble; come to the supplementary question, please.

MRS BURKE: Can the minister enlighten the Assembly on the obvious contradiction between those comments and her comments?

MS GALLAGHER: There has been no contradiction. When the allegations of abuse have been made they have been investigated by Family Services. The issue is that those allegations, when made, were not reported to the Community Advocate, so the Community Advocate cannot assure us on her advice, because the information she received was received so late, that at the time in her opinion those children were safe. Family Services will have had their own opinion on that when they did the investigations. To try to stir it up and to say that children were not dealt with properly or are at risk is, frankly, just irresponsible in the current situation. We are dealing with issues about reporting and information, not about children being at risk. Mrs Burke is on radio saying, "I know children are at risk. I know children are currently being abused."That is irresponsible when we are trying to fix a situation here and get confidence in a system that is suffering and protect our child protection workers, our foster carers and our children and young people who are currently in a situation in which they need the care of the territory.

Ministerial responsibility

MR CORNWELL: My question is directed to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services. I refer to a table on page 3 of Ms Murray's report and to the following statement on that page:

Did Family Services act in accordance with current statutory obligations (with the exception of Section 162 requirements)?

The conclusion that was reached on 20 occasions out of 38, or 53 per cent of the time, is that the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services did not act in accordance with current statutory obligations and, in a further six cases, the evidence was inconclusive. However, the report excluded the department's responsibility to follow section 162 (2) of the Children and Young People Act 1999 when it had a 100 per cent


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