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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1847 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

I turn to the issue of consultation. Richmond Fellowship approached the Director of Family Services, and there has been extensive consultation dating back to early June, when Chris Healy took a proposal to staff and started discussions rolling. Discussions were also held, I understand, between the staff and a person from Richmond Fellowship. The Director of Adoptions and Foster Care and the Director of Family Services attended regular meetings in June and July with the staff of Kaleen. I met with the staff in August. We did not have a tender process until September. Richmond Fellowship proposed a similar arrangement for the 12 to 17 age group. I was aware of that, as Family Services was, and we had consultation. I think it was quite proper to have a public tender process and, of course, that was done. As I indicated a couple of days ago, it was strictly controlled by the Department of Education and Training, the department now responsible for family services. It was only a couple of days ago that I went through what occurred, so I will not bother repeating it.

Mr Speaker, although it was the intention that the contract should begin on 12 October, the contract will now begin on 9 November to accommodate an agreement in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission that allows permanent staff at the Kaleen Youth Shelter some more time to consider their redeployment options and to be trained for new positions. This proposal was initiated by the Director of Family Services in response to staff anxieties, and it indicates a degree of responsibility taken to accommodate the needs of the employees that have been obvious since June. I think the director has handled this exceptionally well, taking into account at all times the needs of the staff. I stress that no staff member will be left without the opportunity to take up another position in the ACT Government Service. Temporary and casual staff are also being assisted in locating new job opportunities even though, strictly speaking, there is no industrial obligation that that be done.

I believe that, in contracting out this service to an agency of high community standing and a reputation for quality service to children, this Government is certainly meeting its obligations to children in the most responsible way possible. The Government is also meeting its obligation to the ACT community to continue to provide services that represent excellent value for the investment of public money. I also believe that, as an employer, this Government is acting responsibly towards its employees.

On Thursday, 12 October 1995, the Community and Public Sector Union and Family Services attended a hearing at the Industrial Relations Commission regarding the transfer of responsibility for the Kaleen Youth Shelter. As part of their submission, the CPSU claimed that not enough notice was given to staff at Kaleen surrounding the closure of the shelter. Maybe that could be queried in the light of what had happened from June on. They also indicated that there were concerns relating to the relocation of staff to other positions. The union stated that it was concerned about the employment prospects of its members. The Government, as a considerate employer, was also concerned about that.

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