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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 996 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

a similar inquiry into the care and protection system. So hopefully this inquiry will allow us to head that off.

I do not want to pre-empt the outcome of the inquiry, Mr Speaker, but I believe that we do need a commitment to the care and protection of children, and this includes more support for our children and young people who are not able to live at home due to abuse or neglect. Multiple placements, abuse in care, high case worker turn-over and adolescents being discharged from the care system without the support or networks required to succeed, are still common stories in the ACT.

As I have said, I am excited about this inquiry. I am sure that the committee will rise to the challenge of what is a wide-ranging inquiry because it is so important. I believe that young people should be involved in decision-making bodies, especially when decisions affect them, and this inquiry will allow that to happen.

MS TUCKER: Mr Speaker, I seek leave to speak.

Leave granted.

MS TUCKER: This looks like a good inquiry and I am pleased to see that the committee is taking on the work. I just would like to make one point. I think it is important that the committee recognises the amount of work that the community has already done on this subject.

Two inquiries were carried out not very long ago by the last Assembly. One was the inquiry into services for children at risk. That inquiry covered protection and care issues that I understand are in the inquiry we are now debating. The other inquiry looked at kids at risk of not completing their education.

The committee needs to be clear about what has already been done by the community so that we are not continually asking the community to present comprehensive submissions on a subject twice within three years. Those submissions are still totally relevant, and I think this is great because it keeps these matters on the agenda. But you need to be respectful of the work the community has already done. The fact that government has not picked it up is a major problem.

I think the terms of reference of this inquiry link in with a motion passed yesterday to ask this government to respond in annual reports to how they are implementing recommendations they have agreed to. Clearly, this government, which has members on committees, has not responded to those two inquiries. I think it would be very relevant for this government to now say in this debate or, if they want a bit of time to think about it, to say it in another way publicly, that they will be prepared to give this Assembly a response to those two inquiries.

It would be a good start for this committee if it was told what this government's position is on the work that has already been done. If this were done, we would also hopefully deal with the potential for duplication and make sure that the committee is able to continue its intention of keeping the issue of young people and their rights on the agenda.

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