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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 206..

Child protection

MR PRATT: My question is to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services. I refer too to Ms Murrary's report on section 162 reports to the Community Advocate. She highlights the Community Advocate's concerns-"She is concerned that 58 per cent of reports received by family services (66 per cent of which referred to allegations of sexual and physical abuse) were not referred to the police when, in her view, they ought to have been referred."Why did the minister's department fail to refer allegations of child abuse to the police when, in the Community Advocate's view, they should have been?

MS GALLAGHER: In the Community Advocate's report that I have tabled today she also has a view on this. The figures have changed slightly but the reasons that no decisions were taken are matters currently being considered by the inquiry. I urge members to wait for that report on 16 April, when we will all know a bit more about this.

MR PRATT: A supplementary question, please. Why does the minister continue to maintain that her department's failure did not threaten the safety of children when it is clearly evident that they did?

MS GALLAGHER: It is not clearly evident that it did. Those are matters currently being inquired into by the commissioner. We will wait for her views on 16 April.

Child protection

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to Ms Gallagher. You acknowledge that you read the Community Services and Social Equity Committee's report The Rights, Interests and Well-being of Children and Young People, including the section that states:

The Committee is extremely concerned at reports that Family Services has failed to comply with its obligations...

Yet you claim that, due to supposed ambiguous wording of the section, you did not ask your department about this serious finding. Which of the words "failed to comply with its obligations"did you not understand?

MS GALLAGHER: I used the term "ambiguous"because, whilst some statements were very specific-paragraph 6.23-on reflection I believed there was some ambiguity in 6.28 about the committee's view on whether this situation had been dealt with. In fact, the committee stated that:

While the Committee acknowledges that Family Services is now in the middle of a Re-Focus, and that there are some measures now in place to prevent these issues from occurring in the future, the Committee is very concerned that the situation...occurred in the first place.

There is also a quote in here from the Community Advocate. She states: view is that this reform agenda developed by Barbara a very commendable one and, if the commitment remains, if the resources are there and if

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