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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 216 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

I welcome Mr Corbell's statement that there will be accommodation for homeless men and their children here in the ACT. But I wonder who is going to provide this service if it is not the Lone Fathers Association, who have a reputation and are certainly well known for their involvement in this area. Perhaps Mr Corbell could elaborate a little on what really is proposed in relation to this. I am not convinced that this whole exercise put forward by Mr Corbell as an amendment is not designed to remove the Lone Fathers Association from this area, to remove the expertise that they have developed over time and to hand it over to some other organisation which may not be as knowledgeable or, dare I say it, perhaps even as sympathetic to some of the very genuine problems that exist here in the ACT.

Ms Tucker mentioned that she has seen problems associated with men and with their children. I think it is important to recognise that the question of domestic violence is not confined to women and therefore we have to recognise that facilities are needed in the community for both sides. Ms Tucker quite rightly agrees-there is no argument there.

However, it is important that the people who provide this accommodation and the back-up for those who are suffering as a result of domestic violence should at least have experience in respect of their needs. I would not like to think, Mr Corbell, that the question of the needs of the sufferers of male domestic violence and homelessness-fathers, if you like, and their children-and the administration of those needs would not be taken into account to the same extent as the needs of women in women's refuges.

I think it is very important that we recognise that there are some differences. I have noted that there have been some concerns expressed in the documents about female children in men's refuges. I discount this on the basis that you could express the same concern about male children in female refuges. I think we have to be even-handed on this whole matter.

I welcome your statement, Mr Corbell, that there will be homeless men and children's accommodation but I dispute your arguments against the tender process in relation to Mr Stefaniak's motion. We are looking at the evaluation of the report of the ACT Men's Accommodation and Crisis Service. I believe it is an evaluation that should take place by an independent body and I see no reason why a committee of this Assembly should not be that body.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (12.04): Mr Speaker, I will speak again briefly. I have to first of all make the point to members participating in this debate that the evaluation of the current provider was done by an independent person, by an independent agency. It was done by an independent consultant, who was selected through an open tender process.

So what is the criticism? Is the criticism about the professionalism or capacity of those officers to do that work? If it is, you need to substantiate that claim. But you cannot suggest than an Assembly committee inquiry is the same as a professional independent assessment by a consultant engaged through a public tender process. You just cannot do it and I think it is quite inappropriate for you to try to do so.

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