Page 4046 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 20 September 2011

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program. I welcome you to the Assembly and I hope you draw some lessons from the question time experience.

Questions without notice

Children and young people—care

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, it recently emerged that a residential care placement of children or young people in the care of the director-general with a non-government organisation may have been in breach of the Children and Young People Act—you said as much yourself earlier in question time—in that that organisation was apparently not approved as a suitable entity under the Children and Young People Act. In fact, on 30 August 2011, the ACT Government Solicitor sent the organisation a letter in which it was stated that the organisation had “never been approved by the Director-general as a suitable entity in terms of s63 of the Act”. Minister, given that you were advised in July that there were possible breaches of the act, what did you do to ensure that the children in care in question, who were still in care in August, were safe, and what did you do to ensure that this never happened again?

MS BURCH: I thank Mrs Dunne for her question. As I have indicated, in late July, in a briefing to me, there was notice around difficulty in care and protection staff—pressures on care and protection staff, pressures on foster care placements. There was also commentary about use of unapproved staff. It also went on to say that there were strong oversight positions in place. As I have said, I have been seeking assurances that services meet our standards, that oversight is absolutely strong and that all things being equal are in place.

Throughout this whole period, Mrs Dunne, my primary concern was the safety of the children. The care and protection staff make tough decisions. Again, I call on you to say what you would do in these circumstances. If you had children that needed care and protection, would you put in place arrangements—

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, members. You will have your chance in a moment.

Mr Hanson interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, I have been clear.

MS BURCH: Would you not put in place the best that you could do? Would you not put in place, utilising a service that is known to you, an oversight by a registered out of home care provider to provide case management on a tight and documented basis? Would you not seek to have those types of assurances in place?

I have, over that period, sought information from the directorate. I have to say that some of the information back to me from the directorate had a level of uncertainty because of the oversight arrangements that were in place. I met with the provider of this service on the Friday afternoon, and I still have questions. So I felt that I had no

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