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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (4 December) . . Page.. 4391 ..

School Canteens - Provision of Firefighting Equipment

MS McRAE: My question is to the Minister for Education. Minister, it has come to our attention that in one new school in the ACT parents working in a canteen are cooking things like hamburgers and have neither a fire extinguisher nor a fire blanket to use. We have been informed that, according to the Building Code, they do need a fire extinguisher or a fire blanket if they are cooking things in oil, such as chips. However, I do want to inform you that they are actually cooking hot food on stoves. Can you explain why the department will not supply either a fire blanket or a fire extinguisher to the school?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. If she will provide me with details of the school, I will follow that up and see what the situation is.

MS McRAE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Would you also find out what departmental policy is on the provision of these things, because the school has been firmly told that it is policy not to provide them.

MR STEFANIAK: I will also take that on notice and follow that up, Mr Speaker.

Children's Services Legislation

MS TUCKER: My question is to Mr Stefaniak. Can the Minister explain in detail the process that is taking place for the preparation of a draft Children's Services (Amendment) Bill; the consultation that has taken place until now, including a list of the stakeholders that have been involved in reviewing the legislation; and the consultation that it plans for the future in the preparation of a draft Bill?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. I am naturally uncertain about all those people, but it is very important, Ms Tucker, that the Children's Services Act 1986 actually be reviewed. It is an Act that is in need of an overhaul. There are a number of problems with it. There are a number of sections that need to be added to it. It is now 10 years old. It does need revision to reflect modern child welfare practice. Since we have been in government I have had a number of talks with a number of people in the sector and other members who are key stakeholders, I suppose, in the sector, ranging from the Chief Magistrate, Ron Cahill, downwards and outwards. There are a lot of people who have a real interest in relation to this matter.

The recruitment of a project officer for six months is currently being finalised, and that project officer of the department will work with all interested groups to draft a document that will form the basis of consultation with the community. It is envisaged that that document will be circulated in the first half of next year, with the intention of drafting a new Bill for presentation to the Assembly in early 1998. We have looked pretty closely, within the bureau and also within government, at how quickly we can get this process done and give it proper weight, proper consultation and proper thoroughness.

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