Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 February 2005 2005) . . Page.. 393 ..
anniversary of the day that that child or young person came under the care and protection of the chief executive. A whole range of information goes into that report. They are important reports.
I have read the Community Advocate’s report. I meet with the Community Advocate. I get advice from the Community Advocate about areas that she still has concerns with in implementing reform in child protection. There are certainly concerns around the capacity to provide those reports on time, not that those reports are not being done. The reports are being done, but the reports are meant to be made available to the Community Advocate within 31 days of a child being 12 months in the care of the chief executive. From my understanding today, there are around 400 or so young people in the care of the territory. Work is being done on all of the annual reports. I understand about 30 of those reports are still outstanding or late, essentially, in meeting that time frame. I should also point out that 40 per cent of those reports originate from non-government agencies that provide foster care placements and residential options to those children and young people. Sixty per cent of the annual reports rest with the office.
I understand an approach has been made to the office in the past week from a non-government agency saying that it lost staff recently and there are pressures on that organisation to meet some of the obligations, which feed into the office’s ability to meet its obligations. So, it is quite a difficult area. I believe, as everyone who has an understanding of care and protection knows, that these history reports are extremely important, not only in giving information to oversight agencies that appropriate care plans have been put in place but also in giving those children and young people, as they get older and look back on the life they have had in the care and protection system, an understanding of some of the decisions that were made. We all know from the Senate inquiry how important some of those history reports are on children and young people in care as they become adults.
It is a difficult area. There are contingencies and reasons why these reports will be late. Extra emphasis has been put on making sure that they are all done on time. The office is prioritising that. If you look at last year’s workload, you can understand that some pulling together of that information did not meet the time frames required. At the moment, the Office of Children, Youth and Family Support is receiving more than 600 reports a month of concern about abused and neglected children. So far we have received about 5,000 reports of concern about children and young people. This puts us on a target of around 8,000 for the year.
That has come with a considerably increased demand on the office. As you know, we have put in millions of dollars. We have recruited staff from overseas. The entire system is being reformed. Work has been done with the out-of-home sector and other non-government providers to make sure that we move to a best practice child protection system. Time and again I have said that these pressures have an impact on the ability to meet some of the workload required of the office.
MRS DUNNE: My supplementary question to the minister is how does she reconcile the answer she has just given and the answer she gave in June 2004—let us not quibble about the date—