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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2772 ..

MR STANHOPE: The great interest, of course, is in the state of emergency and some conspiracy around my role and my actions in relation to the declaration of a state of emergency, a conspiracy which just bemuses me.

Mrs Burke: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can the Chief Minister please answer the question before him, which is: was the decision not to issue warnings made by the ESB or the government?

MR SPEAKER: Come to the point, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: The ESB issued warnings, Mr Speaker. It is the view of many, and it is reported on by McLeod, that the warnings were not adequate, that they were not timely enough. Warnings were issued. They were issued by the Emergency Services Bureau. McLeod reports on that in detail. The government has accepted Mr McLeod's criticisms. We have agreed to act on them, and we are, with alacrity.

Children-foster carers

MS TUCKER: My question is to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services and is in relation to foster carers. Minister, you may be aware that there have been a number of letters in the Chronicle recently from foster carers who are very unhappy with current arrangements. I have also been approached by some other carers who support the general sentiment of the letters. Basic to their complaints is inadequate financial, service and moral support. In the same Chronicle I noticed an advertisement inviting people to become foster carers with the invitation to ring and find out about "this possible alternative to work". That is a rather interesting turn of phrase, considering the work that is involved here.

Minister, can you tell the Assembly how the department is working with foster carers to address their concerns? Can you table in this place by the end of this sitting week details of the number of children who are not currently able to be placed in a family, where these children are currently accommodated and how long they have been there?

MS GALLAGHER: I acknowledge that Ms Tucker gave me some notice of this question. In relation to the second part about tabling, I will certainly get back to you. It is very similar to a question on notice that Mrs Burke has put on the notice paper-I just noticed that myself. Mrs Burke's question goes into more detail than what you have asked, so I am happy to provide you a copy of whatever we send to Mrs Burke.

I did not see the ad in the Chronicle about possible alternatives to work, and I will have a look at that. In relation to foster carers, I met with them in late May to talk with them about a number of matters, one of which was the feeling that they were not receiving adequate financial support for the work that they do. I certainly felt that they had some strong arguments to support that claim.

In fact, they gave me a report called Costs of caring, which you may have seen. It goes into payments for foster carers around Australia, and the study found that no state or territory reimburses foster carers for the full cost of the day-to-day care of children and young people in out-of-home care.

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