Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3177 ..
in this budget in the planning portfolio. I commend the planning investments in this budget to the Assembly.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure—Part 1.17—Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services—$190,870,000 (net cost of outputs), $17,615,000 (capital injection) and $35,876,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $244,361,000.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (9:18): Thank you, Mr Speaker. The most profound words uttered during the estimates hearings this year were uttered in the first hour of the first day. They were “institutionalised abuse”. That was how the grandparents and kinship carers association described the treatment meted out to them by the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services. It was an extraordinary statement, delivered with great emotion, great passion and great despair. It was a statement not made lightly but made out of desperation and frustration, because the grandparents and kinship carers in our community have been given a raw deal by ACT Labor.
The grandparents and kinship carers in our community have what is probably the hardest job of all. They care for children and young people in our community, and it is not a foster care situation. These children and young people are their blood relatives. More often than not the care they provide is not temporary. The children and young people in the care of these very special carers are their own grandchildren, their nephews, their nieces and even their siblings.
These children and young people are at risk. They are often in the justice system, many have disabilities, many have mental health problems, many have been caught up in drug and alcohol, many have parents in jail or in detox units or in hospital, and some have parents who are dead, either by their own hand or at someone else’s. Were it not for their grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters, these children would be homeless, in the cold, in danger and extreme despair.
It does not stop there. The parents of the children in care, the brothers and sisters of the carers, they too are at risk. They are in the justice system, they are addicted to drugs and alcohol, they have disabilities and mental health problems and they are facing unemployment, homelessness and financial stress—and almost invariably they have fraught relationships with both their children and their children’s carers.
Can you imagine the emotion that runs through the relationships when carers look after their kin? Grandmas and grandpas in their 70s and even older, looking after teenagers. They should be able to do what grandparents have always been able to do—build a special relationship with grandchildren. Instead, they become parents again. When they thought it was over, their job of parenting begins again.
Can you imagine, on top of that, the despair that these grandparents face, knowing that the children they brought into the world are facing the kinds of problems that I have already outlined? Can you imagine that these grandparents, at the age of 60 and 70 and 80, are having to cope with daily parental duties, instead of enjoying that