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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3312 ..

Clauses, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 29 to 34, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Clause 35

MR RUGENDYKE (5.12): I move:

Page 17, line 12, subclause (2), omit the subclause, substitute the following subclauses:

"(2) The Minister must ensure that there is always at least 1 member of the council who represents the interests of carers.

(2A) The Minister may appoint a person to the council only if satisfied that the person-

(a) has expertise in relation to services for children or young people; or

(b) represents the interests of carers.".

This amendment of mine recognises the importance of carers. Once again, in the sphere of children in care, it suggests that we would be entitled to a position on the Minister's council. It is an important inclusion. It is one for which I would encourage support.

MS TUCKER (5.13): I do not have a problem with foster parents being on the council. It is perfectly reasonable. But we have a lot of positions prescribed on the Children's Services Council in the current legislation. The Government moved away from that. They said it was not good, particularly because of the presence of particular bureaucrats and because they did not have as much flexibility as they would like.

So I was surprised last night to hear the Government supporting Mr Rugendyke's amendment to prescribe one position only. Mr Rugendyke has just said that they should be entitled to be there. Of course they should, but so should other people who have an equally important role in the discussion around substitute care and children. This Bill is a very broad piece of legislation. This also incorporates child care. It may well be appropriate to have a consumer of child-care services. The police may well be represented.

There is obviously a use in having Family Law Court expertise because of the interaction between welfare and Family Court matters. It is also very useful to have a consumer of the services - a young person who is in substitute care. There is a great range of people who need to be represented, who have an equally strong right to be heard. But we are seeing just one particular group prescribed - a very strange process.

It is obviously about the Government wanting to keep Mr Rugendyke's support. He wants his particular constituency prescribed in law. I have to ask the question: Where is the consistency here when we have heard from the Government that they do not want prescription. There are a number of other people who have as much of a legitimate voice on this council as the foster people. It is a very inconsistent decision.

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