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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1848 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I have indicated what occurred as a result of that. All permanent officers have been offered positions at Quamby or in other areas of Family Services which offer similar work conditions and salaries to those that apply at the Kaleen Youth Shelter. No permanent employee is being denied a position. To assist staff in making the transition to their new positions, Family Services agreed in the commission that a number of conditions should apply. Firstly, the shelter will remain operational under government control until 7.00 am on Thursday, 9 November 1995, when Richmond Fellowship will take over the shelter. Secondly, Kaleen Youth Shelter staff will be offered training at Quamby to introduce them to their new work environment. Thirdly, Family Services will advise staff of any employment options, other than Quamby, which may be suitable. Fourthly and finally, in order to keep the shelter operational for the coming month, Family Services agreed to supplement vacancies on the shelter staff roster with casual staff as necessary.

The CPSU agreed to this and, on behalf of the Kaleen staff, agreed to lift all bans and strike actions as of Thursday, 12 October. Staff attended the shelter for the 3 o'clock shift that afternoon. Two children were placed at the shelter on that day, and there are now four young people at the shelter. The arbitration commissioner recommended that the Richmond Fellowship contract not be taken up until 9 November and that the staffing action agreed to by the two parties be implemented. The commissioner also recommended that there be no further bans, industrial action or any other action. Yet here we are with this motion today.

The process of transferring the function in a legitimate, orderly way should not be held up. Referring an administrative operational matter such as this to a committee is just one of the oldest tricks in the book to torpedo a perfectly reasonable administrative decision to improve the operation of the Kaleen Youth Shelter, to broaden its programs and to extend the quality care being given to the children there without additional cost to government.

Ms Tucker talked about Richmond Fellowship staff being on $26,000 a year and made some amazing comment about the amount of money the chief executive of the ACT public service gets, which incidentally, Ms Tucker, is considerably less than in other States. The $26,000, which is about what an ASO2 gets, is paid to youth workers at the Kaleen Youth Shelter. I do not see what the point of your argument is. We are not talking about a base wage which is any different.

We have to look at the best possible service for the children. That is the most important thing. This Government has to be responsible. It has to provide the best possible service within its budget, and that is what it is proposing here. For those children, there is virtually nothing to do during the day. My office has received a number of calls from people saying that the children are dropped off in Civic or go into Civic and there is just nothing for them to do. Richmond Fellowship has extensive day programs, such as those at Pialligo, to help these children who are in some difficulty to get their lives together again. It is all about providing the best possible service for the children. That is what we have been doing. We have done it with great consideration for the staff all the way through and continue to do so. If this motion succeeds, Mr Speaker, it really will be the children who will miss out.

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