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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 12 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 5020..


Here in the ACT we do not go to targets. As I said, we respond to concern reports and here in the ACT we have same-day, 24 hours, 72 hours and seven-day levels of reporting depending on how they are assessed once the report comes in.

Children and young people—care and protection

MR COE: My question is to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, this week the Victorian Ombudsman released his report on his investigation regarding the Victorian Department of Human Services child protection program. In that report the Ombudsman notes a range of bureaucratic failings, including the pursuit of numerical targets overshadowing the interests of children, the provision of the minimum possible response to child protection reports that can be justified, poor record keeping and that the department made "deliberate policy decisions to reduce the number of child protection reports that are investigated".

Minister, in light of the recent report of the Public Advocate on her review of the emergency response strategy for children in crisis in the ACT, can you assure the Assembly and the people of the ACT that the bureaucratic failings highlighted in the Victorian care and protection system are not replicated in the ACT?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Coe for his question. There are some significant fundamental differences in the system. I think I have made comment in an earlier response that we here in the ACT do not operate under specific targets as those referred to in Victoria. We here operate on the same-day, 24 hour, 72 hour and seven-day response rate.

Just in 12 months, Care and Protection here received 13,030 reports, I think it was. This is a 10 per cent increase. In New South Wales, in the ACT, in Victoria—in any state—this is a system that continues to be under pressure. It is a complex environment and all systems can certainly look to contemporary practice and look to improve, as we can. I am sure that Victoria—I think I heard that the minister there today was accepting of the report's recommendations and is looking to get on and do what she needs to do to improve the system.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Coe, a supplementary.

MR COE: Minister, what are you doing to assure yourself, and what assurances can you provide to the ACT community, that the ACT's care and protection unit investigates all child protection reports it receives and that those reports are investigated fully?

MS BURCH: Again Mr Coe—I thought he was a bit quicker—seemed not to listen. I made a comment earlier that we do not operate under targets. Where a report meets a statutory threshold for investigation, it will be investigated, and a risk assessment rating determines the immediacy of the response. That response is same day, 24 hours, 72 hours or seven days.

MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.


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