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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 2444..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

For a large number of families, it depends on the court outcomes, whether the courts determine that orders should be taken out and the nature of those orders, whether they should be temporary or final or who should have custody of the children, whether they should be put into care, or whether they go to Quamby if it is a juvenile justice matter. Whilst there are certainly procedures, policies and guidelines in place for care and protection, they have been very much strengthened since the Vardon inquiry, to make sure we are doing everything we can for children in the territory who are at risk.

The other part of the question is slightly out of care and protection's control, which is what the courts determine once the case has got to court; whether or not care and protection are successful to the point that they are happy that the outcome they were seeking was delivered through the courts. Even if the courts do not agree with the orders care and protection were seeking, care and protection are still in a position to put in support for the family, even if they have continued concerns about the level of risk for those children.

This is an area which presents enormous challenges to our community, because you cannot have someone in the house all the time, not even in the house of parents and their children. We cannot be in the living room of every child in Canberra to make sure that they are being cared for appropriately. For those children that we are aware of and know there are concerns about and that reports have been made—whether it be from the school, neighbours or other family members—once that report has come in, it is appropriately appraised and the support that needs to be provided to that child is provided.

I am confident that the changes we have made in care and protection in recent years have very much strengthened that response. We can see that in the number of cases going to appraisal, the number of those appraisals that are substantiated and the number of children in the care of the chief executive and the number of successful matters which are heard by the courts in terms of taking some action and response and making sure that those children are protected.

I will get back to you on the number of children who have died. It is not a large number by any means. As you can imagine, there are child deaths in the territory that are not related to care and protection. I have a rough idea of that, but I want to be very careful and make sure I give you the exact answer.

Education—funding

MS PORTER: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Will the Treasurer please outline for the Assembly how the government has demonstrated its commitment to public education since coming to office and in the 2006-07 budget?

MR STANHOPE: This is an important question in the context of debate currently occurring within the community consequent on the decisions announced in this budget and the consultation the Minister for Education and Training has been leading and facilitating in the past two months. In the context of that debate, in the atmospherics or the discussion about education, much of what this government has achieved in office has been overlooked or minimised. It is important that we look at some of the quite massive


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