Page 2697 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 July 2008

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MS GALLAGHER: An adviser told me.


MRS BURKE: My question, through you, Mr Speaker, is to the Minister for Health and Minister for Children and Young People, Ms Gallagher, and relates to memorandums of understanding with ACT Policing. Minister, yesterday in question time, you said that the memorandum of understanding between SACAT, which is the sexual assault crisis assessment team, and child protection was working well but admitted that in the Ainslie case there had been a breakdown. Also, minister, in answer to a question on notice of 6 May 2008 you told me:

The MOU between the Child at Risk Health Unit (CARHU) and ACT Policing has been finalised and is in the process of being signed by both parties.

It has taken you more than three years to get to this stage. Minister, why has it taken so long to finalise an MOU which is vital for the protection of children in the ACT?

MS GALLAGHER: Mrs Burke is talking about two different MOUs—the MOU that exists between care and protection and the police, and the child at risk assessment unit, which is in the department of health, and the police. The advice to you in that question is correct. There have been some delays in finalising the MOU, but it does not mean at all that those agencies have not been working together in the interests of protecting children and young people in the ACT. An MOU, of course, on paper, formalises that relationship.

But I know from experience—in fact, I was speaking with the head of CARHU last night—that the interaction between CARHU and the police is first rate and always works in the interests of children and young people in protecting them and ensuring that they are safe.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Burke, do you have a supplementary question?

MRS BURKE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, given that MOUs between your agencies and ACT Policing are either unsigned or unworkable, does this not clearly indicate that you are not aware of what is going on in your department and you are not up to the job?

MS GALLAGHER: The relationship between my agencies and the police, as I have just said, works extremely well. The issue around the MOU in the case that the Leader of the Opposition referred to earlier in question time is that it was not SACAT that responded in that situation. They were responding to another alleged offence that was not relating to children. That has led to the issues that we have all become aware of and concerned about and that have needed to be followed up. I followed those up at the first opportunity. I followed them up with the Attorney-General; I followed them up with the Chief Executive of the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services. So I do not think that the allegations raised by Mrs Burke are true. In fact, I know they are not true. The police and my agencies work extremely well.

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