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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1720 ..

Mr Kaine: Is Ms McRae asking a question or harassing the Minister?

MR STEFANIAK: It does not matter. Mr Speaker, in relation to evaluation, this question was initially looked at by the department way back in June, and staff were consulted in terms of their views and everything else for some time prior to this - - -

Ms McRae: Looking at is not evaluation.

MR STEFANIAK: Evaluation in terms of providing the best possible service. The department looked at the best way to provide the service, because this Government is all about providing services, making sure that in that case the kids get the best possible service. Here we had a situation where a service that was run by government could be provided far better by other organisations. I think it is most unfortunate that the child welfare services in the ACT - certainly the non-government ones - have been somewhat sullied by accusations by certain people and by the union involved in recent weeks.

I would like to read a letter from Jenny Kitchin, representing Galilee, Barnardos, Marymead, Richmond Fellowship and the ACT Foster Care Association, which appeared in the newspaper. It says:

As directors of the majority of non-government child-welfare agencies in the ACT, we are writing in response to the item "Union fails in shelter protest" (CT, October 9).

Ms McRae: Mr Speaker, I would like him to answer the question. On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I did not ask for a letter to be read to me. I have read the letter.

MR STEFANIAK: I know that you did not. You do not want to hear what it says.

Ms McRae: I asked him what evaluation has been undertaken. I did not ask him what is Ms Kitchin's opinion of services in the ACT. I have read that opinion. I would like to know what evaluation was undertaken.

MR SPEAKER: Ms McRae, you have been in this seat for long enough to know that Ministers answer questions as they see fit.

Ms McRae: No, I have not been in that seat for very long at all, Mr Speaker. You are the Speaker and you are the one who will determine that he will answer the question.

MR STEFANIAK: I will continue, if I may, Mr Speaker; it is a short letter. It goes on:

We are concerned that the item fails to acknowledge the important and essential role the non-government sector has historically played in providing essential services for children and families.

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