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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3807 ..

(1) In light of the Gallop Report, what processes are in place to ensure that the Community Advocate is now sufficiently accountable to Government;

(2) Further to (1), what mechanisms, if any, are in place to ensure that client satisfaction surveys now form part of this accountability process.

Mr Stanhope

: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

(1) The findings of the Gallop Inquiry that relate to the Community Advocate were successfully challenged in the Supreme Court, which found that in commenting adversely in its Report, the Board of Inquiry failed to observe the requirements of procedural fairness. The Board's findings in respect of the Community Advocate can thus be discounted. Given the Court's finding that the Report is flawed, the Government has also tabled the Community Advocate's response to it.

It is regrettable that the Member's question has raised the false impression that these findings were valid, when the matter was settled over a year ago.

The Community Advocate is an independent statutory officer accountable to the Executive. She exercises her statutory functions free from the specific direction of government and the Assembly. These arrangements are consistent with those that apply to other independent office holders in the ACT and in other jurisdictions. In all respects and for over eleven years, she has addressed accountability requirements impeccably.

(2) In respect of the annual surveys, details of these are published in each year's annual report, and are thus an expected form of accountability. I note that the Board of Inquiry's criticism of the Office of the Community Advocate survey is based on an erroneous interpretation of the figures, so again its findings can be discounted. A high percentage of the clients of the Office of the Community Advocate by definition are unable to respond to a survey because of their profound disability. Therefore the Office of the Community Advocate relies on key stakeholders, service providers and significant people in the client's life, to complete annual surveys. The results of these quality assessments have shown the performance of the Office of the Community Advocate to be exemplary in all respects.

Job vacancies-PBI benefits

(Question No 911)

Mrs Burke asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

In relation to Department of Health and Community Care job advertisements, can the Minister explain:

(1) Why the Department of Health and Community Care is advertising job vacancies with packages which include Public Benevolent Institutions (PBI) benefits (other than those jobs classified as being eligible for PBI benefits as defined under the current Tax Act (Section 57(a)) for positions that may not be eligible for such benefits;

(2) The potential tax liability faced by the ACT Government in continuing to promote and contribute to the PBI scheme on behalf of all Health and Community Care employees receiving benefits under the scheme;

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