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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 2443..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

In relation to codes of conduct and expectations around behaviour, the government and the ministry respect a code of conduct. To the extent that we failed the code of conduct, or failed ourselves in our standards, is a matter of enormous regret. We seek always to ensure that we behave appropriately, that we meet our own expectations of ourselves and that we meet the community's expectations of us as elected representatives of the community. I think that goes not just to members of the government but indeed stands for members of the opposition as well.

If we got into the business of casting stones and aspersions, as I have said before, in this particular glasshouse of the ACT Assembly, I know of nobody in this place who could stand without threat of gross hypocrisy and claim that their behaviour is at all times exemplary and that there is nothing they have done or said that hasn't caused them a blush. Perhaps we all need to look at ourselves, look at our behaviour and strive to continue to meet the community's expectations.

It is an important issue, I do not trivialise it at all. This is an Assembly, a parliament, that has struggled, in its 17 years of existence, to excite the support or loyalty of the people we represent. From time to time I am concerned and regretful of the way in which we, as elected representatives, bring the place down and reinforce many of the negative perceptions the Canberra community has of us. I think, as I said before, it behoves each of us to ensure that we do not do anything in our own behaviour that does that.

Children—care and protection

MRS BURKE: My question is to Ms Gallagher, the Minister for Disability and Community Services, and is in regard to her responsibility for children, youth and family support. On 15 August 2006, an article appeared in the Australian newspaper regarding the care and protection of children in Western Australia who had died and who had had contact with the state Department of Community Development prior to their death. Have there been any similar cases reported in the ACT in the past two years?

MS GALLAGHER: I did not see the report that you are talking about. Your question is: are there children in the ACT who have been in touch with the care and protection system and who have died in the last two years? There are. I cannot give you the exact figure, but I can take that on notice. I am aware for certain that there have been children who have passed away and who have had, at some time in their life, some involvement with care and protection. I will take that question on notice and get back to you.

MRS BURKE: Thank you, minister. What is the government's current policy on ensuring the safety of children who are at risk and who remain with their family in often less than safe circumstances?

MS GALLAGHER: We have the law, which we work within, the Children and Young People Act, and a whole range of policies, procedures and guidelines on risk management in terms of the centralised intake system, which is where the calls come to. They come into the centralised intake system and then go out to the care and protection professionals for assessment. There is a range of things we put in place for particular families.


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