Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (5 August) . . Page.. 3510..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
of that. Unless anyone out there has 40 child protection workers ready to start work tomorrow to deal with the 800-odd cases we are getting every month, these timeliness figures will be very difficult to achieve.
We have nothing to hide on this. I have been on the record. We are trying to achieve the best outcomes we can. We are dealing with the most urgent cases as they come in. I get constant briefings from the department about this. We will look at whether the targets are realistic when we look at our performance measures.
The Office for Children, Youth and Family Support is working very hard in the interests of protecting children in the ACT. They do what they can, Mrs Burke. They are short-staffed and reports are coming in faster than they can deal with them. While we have sat here bickering about child protection, this area of government will have received 40 allegations of abuse about children. That is what they will be dealing with. They will be doing the work.
MR CORNWELL: My question is to the minister for education, youth and family support. I am most interested to hear, Minister, of the problems faced by the department in relation to family support-that you are getting something like 800 reports per month and that the department is understaffed.
I understand that your department recently rejected applications from four or five experienced child protection workers. The reason that these applicants were rejected was that they were supposedly overqualified. I would imagine that anybody with any qualifications in this area would be welcomed if your department is so overworked and overwhelmed. Given that I thought we were in desperate need of well-qualified, experienced staff, why did your department refuse these applicants on the spurious grounds that they were overqualified?
MS GALLAGHER: As opposition members who have been ministers will know, ministers do not involve themselves in the recruitment of staff or decisions about recruitment of staff to public service agencies, which is entirely appropriate.
Your question seems to accuse the department or the office-I have no idea what you are accusing them of-of dismissing people who would be able to do this job and who have passed a recruitment process for no other reason than they do not want these people or they do not need them. This is entirely incorrect because the department is actively recruiting. We have been recruiting since February continuously.
I always found in my experience as an organiser-and as someone who has represented people when they have been rejected through recruitment-that there are always two sides to every recruitment story. But, as I have said, ministers do not involve themselves. I am satisfied that the recruitment process in place is very rigorous, is very thorough and is making sure that we have the best people in the jobs.
I will take advice on whether four to five people have been told to nick off because they are overqualified. I absolutely doubt whether that has ever happened. I have no doubts that the recruitment process is ensuring that we are getting the best people for the best