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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 14 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 5805..


MR CORBELL: Guard dogs are a legitimate security option that is used by businesses to protect their private premises. I see no difference between that and these circumstances.

Children and young people—care and protection

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, on 20 September in this place Mrs Dunne asked you a question about what you had done to ensure that the children in the care of an organisation that was not authorised as a suitable entity were safe and that such a situation would not arise in future. In your answer you stated:

I have been seeking assurances that ... all things being equal are in place.

Minister, have you received those assurances and what have you done to satisfy yourself that those assurances have translated into sustainable policies and procedures for the future?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Smyth for his question. Care and protection workers do a tremendous job in difficult circumstances. Mr Smyth is referring to placements by an organisation that has been discussed at length here. Also what has been discussed at length here is that those placements were in order. Our first position has been and will continue to be that placements are made with a recognised out-of-home care provider. Should that placement not be available then the director-general goes to other alternative plans which ensure that children are safe, and I maintain that to be the case. The directorate continues to work on its policies and its processes to ensure that all accountability measures are indeed reflected and adhered to.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Minister, in the time since you sought and received those assurances, have there been any occasions on which any children or young people in care and protection have been placed in the care of any organisation not authorised as a suitable entity? If so, how many children or young people, how many occasions and why?

MS BURCH: The Public Advocate report has identified there were a number of places; I think there were 20. Some of those places identified in the Public Advocate's report were actually support provided within the family home. So I think we need to take them as separate from placements. We have also committed to ongoing work and the Public Advocate will come back and review—

Opposition members interjecting—

MS BURCH: The Public Advocate has identified 24 placements and I have said that we have committed to going through and checking other placement arrangements. That work is in discussion. The Public Advocate is discussing with the director-general how that work will proceed. Additionally, work through the Auditor-General will proceed in the new year.


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