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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2801..


MR DE DOMENICO: If that means interference, Mr Berry, so be it. We will not sit on our hands like you did. If there are any allegations made of this nature, my office and this Government will automatically make sure that those allegations are investigated. WorkCover inspectors, like other people in the public service, have a role to perform, but in performing those duties they must adhere to the law and act in a responsible manner. That is a minimum standard that we will require under this Government. All members of the public service should deal with the community in a courteous manner.

I will keep Mr Osborne and the Assembly informed of the progress in this matter. I repeat: Once allegations of this nature are made against any public service officer under my jurisdiction, and under this Government's jurisdiction, this Government will leave no stone unturned, even if it means sending members of our staff, Mr Berry, to make sure that the community of the ACT is treated with the courteousness that they require as taxpayers.

Children with Disabilities - Summer Programs

MS McRAE: My question is to Mr Stefaniak in his capacity as Minister for Education and Training. Minister, you have advised parents of severely intellectually handicapped children - I believe that you spoke to them yesterday - who previously took advantage of the Malkara holiday program that they will now be offered only places in everyday school holiday programs. Minister, are you aware that many parents have expressed deep concern about the safety of their children if they take part in these programs, which will largely be supervised by people - many of them still very young - who have no training or minimal training or experience in caring for children who can often be very violent? What have you said or done to allay their fears?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. What Ms McRae is talking about is a problem with supervision in the 1995 Malkara program, according to advice by my department. This new program, which now has some 63 places in some 10 organisations, is all about providing a proper program for each of these individual children in the best way to assist them. I am looking forward to the program and to seeing how it goes. I am advised that, far from a lot of parents being really concerned, some 20 have now spoken to the staff in the focus programs unit and have talked about the individual programs for their children. As far as I am aware, there is one parent who still has some problems, but she has been invited to talk to the programs unit to ensure that her child is adequately cared for. I do not agree with Ms McRae, who seems to be indicating that there is widespread concern. I think the parents who have rung the programs unit now are very happy, on the whole, in terms of what is being provided. It will be a much better program, I am sure, than what otherwise would have been provided.

MS McRAE: I ask a supplementary question. You seem to know very little about what is happening, and you certainly seem to have done very little yourself to allay the fears, Mr Stefaniak. To say that they have spoken to the focus programs people is absolutely outrageous. Parents of these children have been told that if their disabled children are disruptive they will be ordered to leave the program immediately. As these children are often profoundly disruptive and potentially dangerous to themselves and to other people,


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