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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 45..


MS DUNDAS: I have a supplementary question. With that announcement that Currong will be offered as student accommodation, what renovations will be taking place at Currong to ensure that it is a safe place for students, let alone anybody, to reside?

MR WOOD: That is a fair question. I repeat, I have not yet made that offer. We have come through our own processes, so I will make that offer to the universities and to the community housing providers. I have always maintained that Currong is safe. It would not meet the more stringent current standards if we were now to build accommodation of that sort. The fire safety upgrade that we are doing in other places is simply a recognition of new advice. You will remember all the turmoil about that from the legal side of things. We assure the current and future tenants that it is safe. A new building-and renovated buildings in other parts of Canberra, with our fire safety program-would have all the modern safety measures incorporated.

Child protection

MR PRATT: My question is to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Ms Gallagher. On 6 February two public servants were stood down following the receipt of an interim report from the Commissioner for Public Administration. The Canberra Times reports that the commissioner stated:

In the ACT we have a group of children for whom safety is not assured, and this

is directly as a result of the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services not meeting statutory requirements.

On the other hand, on the ABC news of 7 February you said:

As to the immediate safety of children, I am assured that they are safe.

Why are you assuring the community that those children that you let down in the past are safe, when the commissioner could not offer such assurances and the Chief Minister accepted her advice?

MS GALLAGHER: The issue we are dealing with today is very complicated. It deals with allegations of abuse of children in care over a number of years. The commissioner is reviewing all the files back to May 2000 relating to allegations of abuse in care. As the files are made available from Family Services, they are handed to the Office of the Community Advocate and they form part of the commissioner's inquiry.

You have the document that I received and which I tabled this morning, in addition to Gwenn Murray's interpretation of some of the early analysis that there was insufficient information on those files about the investigations into the allegations of abuse in care going back a number of years for her to give the Chief Minister and me an assurance that those children were given the care and protection they deserved at the time of the investigations.

I rang the community advocate on Friday afternoon on receipt of the report from the commissioner-which I believe the Chief Minister and I received at about quarter past four-because, in that report, Gwenn Murray, in her attachment, said that there were six children that she could not assure us-Mr Pratt, will you listen to the answer? This is an


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