Page 4043 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 20 September 2011

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reviews which will consider not only the July emergency placement but will consider all current placements as well. If information is still required after that, I am happy to take it.

MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, for each of the placements that we are talking about, what procedures did the directorate follow to establish the status of any organisation that was taking children as being a suitable entity under that act? If they did not do that, why did they not do that?

MS BURCH: In these emergency situations let us put it in context that we have children that are at risk and need an emergency placement. Whilst there have been some compliance matters on this, I just do not know what the opposition would have care and protection staff do. Each and every day care and protection staff do an incredible job for our community. They take kids out of risk—kids that are in danger of being harmed—and they put them in a safe and secure environment.

In the most recent placement, the emergency placement that Mrs Dunne is referring to, the agency involved is contracted by the department for transport services. There was also a case management arrangement in place by a registered out-of-home care provider. I am not quite sure what those opposite would seek the care and protection staff to do—to ignore those children’s risk and safety issues or to do the best they can in those circumstances?

MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter.

MS HUNTER: Minister, you spoke of shortages of care and protection workers. There has been recruitment going on for many years. What are you doing as minister to ensure that we can retain staff in our care and protection system?

MS BURCH: This is a tough job to work in and the ACT and other jurisdictions can certainly say that this is a tough business to be in. I think that members here and broader members in the community should be thankful that we have people to do such an incredible job. We have about 550 children in care at the moment and we have been under some staff pressures. Earlier this year we recruited overseas and I understand that there are 40-plus—I think it is 45-plus—overseas people recruited who have taken acceptance of an offer. They are starting to come in place. I think there are three in place now or there will be 20 in place by December-January, with the remaining coming on in the new year.

As far as how we manage staff and provide support and assistance to them are concerned, I met with a number of staff yesterday afternoon and I plan to meet with them again during this week. They raised with me some of the issues, and I have already spoken with the director-general about that. That is about increased supervision and support. They are under pressure, so often, where they sought to get that supervision and support in house, they are doing the hands-on work themselves.

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