Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (12 February) . . Page.. 297..
MR WOOD (continuing):
support. That includes information, peer support, counselling and respite as some of them carry a very large burden of care over a very long time.
The interest in this was well demonstrated when I launched the policy. The room outside was packed beyond capacity and there was considerable overflow into the foyer. The government has finally been able to put something very solid onto paper. I repeat: we backed that up with substantial funding and, in recent years, increased funding.
MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Ms Gallagher. Minister, you have stated on a number of occasions that you first became aware that your government had not complied with the law on 11 December 2003. What action did you take to ensure that your department complied with the law immediately you found out about that?
MS GALLAGHER: On reading the brief, I spoke immediately to the Chief Minister in person. I wrote to him and provided him with a copy of the brief, and referred the matter to him as the minister responsible for the public service. I wrote to Ms Hinton outlining my concerns and seeking additional information. The information I sought was on whether all the cases that had not been forwarded to the Community Advocate had been investigated fully and how many cases there were. I sought a guarantee from the department that measures and systems were in place to ensure that that did not continue to happen and I sought a guarantee from the department that they were currently meeting all their statutory obligations.
MRS DUNNE: So, Minister, you did not do anything to ensure that the backlog got to the Community Advocate. Why did you cover that up until 15 January?
Mr Corbell: She has just answered that question.
MS GALLAGHER: I have answered that question. The department, in their advice to me, had indicated that they had already reached agreement with the Community Advocate about the forwarding of cases. I do not think that it is any secret to anybody that it has taken some work to retrieve that information. As far as I am aware, that retrieval of information on allegations of abuse in care is still occurring. That is where we have had the numbers rising from 29 allegations relating to 23 children to 38 cases, moving in the report that the Community Advocate gave yesterday to 52 children pertaining to 62 allegations of abuse in care. One of the significant concerns about this issue is that at the time of notifying the government the department was not in a position to say how many cases there were, how many allegations there were. This is the issue of ongoing inquiry by Commissioner Vardon.
MR STEFANIAK: My question is the Chief Minister and Attorney-General. Yesterday, in response to a question from Mr Smyth about why the Attorney-General failed to act on comments by the Community Advocate in her annual report for 2002-03, the Attorney said: