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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 199..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

children originally in the report from Gwenn Murray is concerned, the Community Advocate is satisfied that they are being handled appropriately.

MR HARGREAVES: I thank the minister for her response. I have a supplementary question. As the advocate's and commissioner's inquiries are ongoing, will you keep the Assembly informed of significant developments as they are brought to your attention?

MS GALLAGHER: Yes, I will continue to table advice relating to this inquiry, with the approval of the commissioner or the Community Advocate, as it is given to me or the Chief Minister. I think it is very important that we continue sharing information with members and the community, as it is a matter of significant interest in the ACT. This government has taken responsibility for this issue, and we are moving forward with it. Part of that is enabling people to have the information that we have access to.

I should also point out that the Community Advocate makes comments in the media release that she attached to the report about how this time will be quite devastating for child protection workers and the work that they are doing. She is mindful of that. I would urge members to be mindful of that when they make criticisms about the department.

We need to support the work they are doing; we cannot afford to have these child protection workers decide that this work is too hard and leave. We are trying to recruit workers to these positions. We are doing everything we can to get more bodies in there to help them do this work. Also, regarding comments about foster carers, I ask members to be mindful of the stress they are under at the moment. They are very concerned about the perception the community has of the work that they do in the community. I urge members to read the report and to be mindful of those pressures when they make comments about it.

Child protection

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services. I refer to concerns raised by Ms Gwenn Murray about section 162 reports-under the Children and Young People Act-to the Community Advocate. In Ms Murray's report, which you tabled yesterday, she states that:

It is of concern that it appears that the Department has not complied with the Act and did not refer records to the community advocate as required. It is of...concern that obtaining relevant and reliable data from the Department as to the number of the reports recorded with respect to children and young people in care, have not been able to be provided.

Why has your department failed to provide relevant and reliable data?

MS GALLAGHER: In answering that I need to be very careful and mindful of the fact that a review into those specific issues is currently ongoing. I have been making very strong efforts to keep the inquiry travelling along without any interference from me. There are comments made about the information, and the Community Advocate has made some more comments in the report I tabled this afternoon. This is exactly a part of what this review is trying to do. We should just wait until all the information is available for the experts charged with the responsibility of analysing system deficiencies and the

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