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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (30 July) . . Page.. 3043..


MRS BURKE: What were the urgent matters of child safety that these staff had to return to deal with?

MS GALLAGHER: When I corrected the record yesterday after question time, perhaps I should have said that I was putting that in quotation marks. I was reading from the brief that had been provided to me by the commissioner and, in fact, it was not I who supported the request; it was the commissioner who supported the request of the acting CEO of DEYFS that four out of eight of the audit team members return to their positions.

From my recollection of a discussion I had with Mr Tim Keady, that request had been made because of the number of reports of alleged child abuse that were being received by, at the time, the department of family services and there was significant pressure in handling those urgent calls. The eight staff members who had been working on the audit team had been taken out of family services and the acting CEO at the time took the view that there were more urgent matters to be dealt with-that is, the day-to-day management of child protection issues-than doing the audit work that was required under Gwenn Murray's report. He made the request to the commissioner and the commissioner supported that view.

In relation to why I did not remember, I did get a brief on it and, with question time, you do go back and look at your answers. Perhaps a better choice of words would have been, "I cannot recall the reasons in the brief." I did acknowledge that I had had some advice around it and I did go back and look at it. Yesterday, after question time, I corrected the record because there was a reason given in the advice that I had received.

MRS BURKE: I have a supplementary question. I thank the minister for her answer. Minister, why was this request made three days after the Vardon report was released? When did the CEO of your department decide to make this request and when did he advise you of it? I think that you have answered a bit of that.

MS GALLAGHER: I will have to check on the exact dates. I am not sure that I can give you an exact date as to when Tim Keady advised me. It was certainly in a verbal briefing that he indicated to me that he had made a request that the commissioner had supported; so it was following 17 May. From the advice I have had from the commissioner, she received the request on 17 May. There isn't any reason behind that other than that resources were low, reports were coming in and the acting CEO made the decision that he needed those staff back. I think the timing was just the way it was; there was not any reason that it was following the Vardon report. I will see whether I can get an exact date as to when Tim Keady advised me, but I do remember that it was in a verbal briefing, which I usually have on the Monday and the Friday of a week. I imagine that it was on the Monday or Friday following the 17th.

Education

MR CORNWELL: My question is to the minister for education. Minister, your predecessor was fond of saying that the government strongly felt the necessity to push all secondary students to achieve a year 12 leaving qualification. I believe that you have supported, indeed, reinforced that goal. Nevertheless, families and education community stakeholders have expressed concerns from time to time about the need to provide a good


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