Page 4521 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 18 October 2011

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MS BURCH: As I have said, I think the last placement ended in early August. I could find a copy of the report but I am sure you have got one over there. So those over there will know, and will see, as outlined in the Public Advocate’s report, the dates of those placements. I became concerned and raised questions at the end of July, but clearly, as the Public Advocate’s report outlines, that was happening before that. This is of concern to me. That is of immense disappointment to me and certainly there will be some frank and fearless discussion between me and the directorate.

Children and young people—care and protection

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, the Vardon report, The territory as parent, notes that the children and young people legislation then in place in the ACT recognised:

… when children are removed from their families they must be placed somewhere safe and that external scrutiny is necessary to monitor their safety.

Minister, your directorate, as recently as July, authorised the placement of children in premises that had no hot water, inadequate electricity, no beds, broken windows, glass on the floor and inadequate food. Those premises were owned by Housing ACT, which is another of your portfolio responsibilities. Minister, what questions did you ask care and protection services about why those children were placed in such appalling conditions in the middle of a Canberra winter, and what answers did you get?

MS BURCH: I probably started with a clear statement, before I asked questions, that it was absolutely unacceptable. That property is a property of Housing ACT. It is head leased by another organisation. On the questions of maintenance, I think last sitting I provided to Mr Coe or to the Assembly a list of maintenance that we knew that we carried out on that property.

On the comment about was it good enough, the condition of the property—no, it was not; it clearly was not. I do not think anyone in this community would accept that. One of the things I have made mention of today I am certainly more than happy to share with the Assembly: to make sure that we are directly responsible and that we have complete control over the condition and the state of a property, I have instructed the department to secure a property; that all emergency places go to somewhere that we know, that we are responsible for and the direct link is there.

MR SMYTH: Supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Minister, what questions did you ask care and protection services about whether or how often it scrutinised or monitored the safety of those children and what answers did you receive?

MS BURCH: The placement of those children, as we know, was under NBSS, which is not an approved organisation, but arrangements were put in place with an approved

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