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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Friday, 27 June 2008) . . Page.. 2231 ..

MR SPEAKER: I think you did. Would you just sit down for a minute and I will refer to the continuing resolution on sub judice. It says:

(1) Cases in which proceedings are active in the courts shall not be referred to in any motion, debate or question.

By reference to police evidence, I think you draw the connection, and I do not think you should.

MR STEFANIAK: I understand that, Mr Speaker. Minister, can you inform the Assembly what was this assessment made by your department four days before the police intervened?

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Speaker, I thank you for your guidance on matters that are currently before the court. The advice to me about the visit that was made on 18 June was that, based on the professional decision making of the child protection workers who visited the house at that time, there were no grounds for emergency action or removal of children but that the department formed the view that they would keep an ongoing role in monitoring of the family.

If I can just use this opportunity, I want to put on the record my sincere appreciation of the work that child protection workers do, and my thanks. I met with many of the staff involved at lunch today. They of course are quite upset at the reports in the Canberra Times that move directly to blame them and their decision making. As an Assembly, as people who are involved in these matters, I think that we do not understand and do not have any appreciation of the issues that care and protection workers face every day as they visit families across the territory.

Care and protection workers are involved with over 1,250 children as of today. Some of those are on court-ordered care, whether it be a supervision order, a protection order or in the care of the territory in a formal sense, having been removed from care. Several hundred of those are working with the department, and their families are in a voluntary capacity. With stories such as the one in the Canberra Times, which move to blame care and protection workers and question their decision making, we need to understand the impact that has on an already extremely stressed workforce.

The advice to me, supported by information that I have received directly from the staff today, is that their professional opinion—and these are decisions that are taken every day by professionals—was that as of 18 May they did not feel that any further action in terms of removing children or any sort of emergency action was warranted. But they maintained their ongoing supervision role, which they had had in place for some time.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question?

MR STEFANIAK: Thanks. Minister, how many workers from child protection attended the premises on the Wednesday?

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