Page 4649 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 19 October 2011

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MR SPEAKER: Yes, there is no point of order. Chief Minister, you have the floor.

Ms Gallagher: I have finished the answer, thank you.

Children and young people—care and protection

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, the Foster Care Association today issued a media release in which it warned that the problems within the child protection service identified in the Public Advocate’s report released on Friday last week were “just the tip of the iceberg”. The release also noted:

We have been raising issues of real concern for carers and kids in care with Care and Protection management over a number of years, with promises that there will be action. However, we continue to see carers being threatened, lied to and being treated disrespectfully throughout the system.

Minister, this is coming from an association that clearly has come to the end of its tolerance in its dealings with your directorate. Minister, do you condone the behaviour of your directorate in making threats, telling lies and treating carers with disrespect?

MS BURCH: I thank Mrs Dunne for her question, Yes, I have read the release by the Foster Care Association, and I put on record now that any threats or behaviour that are not in the best interest of supporting carers or children would not be the practice that I would condone.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, a supplementary question.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, what is your response to the Foster Care Association’s press release and what are you going to do to ensure that threats, lies and lack of respect do not continue?

MS BURCH: We have made contact with the Foster Care Association to arrange a meeting with them next week to discuss these matters.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, a supplementary.

MR SMYTH: Minister, how many times do you have to be told about problems in your directorate before you take action?

MS BURCH: The kinship carers and foster carers I meet with regularly through the year and they raise a number of matters with me. And on a number of matters I follow through with the department. So it is not that I sit idly by and ignore their commentary and their concerns. It is stuff that I move on.

MR HARGREAVES: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hargreaves.

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