Page 4656 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 19 October 2011

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MS GALLAGHER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am conscious of the stress under which the directorate is being placed at this point in time. This is the same directorate, of course, that has been managing the response to and the review of Bimberi. They are also working with significant staff shortages. There have been intense recruitment efforts undertaken in the last year, which will alleviate some of that by the end of this year. I understand 20 additional staff will be arriving before the end of this year and some new staff in the new year, which should alleviate some of the stress.

Every time the issues are raised in the political heat they are raised in—perhaps we cannot get away from that—we should be aware of the fact that the staff in the directorate feel particularly vulnerable as a result of statements that are made by members in this place. I just say that we should be conscious that, whilst we are having the debates in here, there are still children being removed every day, there are still emergency orders being dealt with, there are still placements being needed to be made. We need to keep the care and protection system going and support the staff as much as we can.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Seselja.

MR SESELJA: Chief Minister, will you now apologise to those children and families who have been so badly let down by your government in care and protection?

MS GALLAGHER: Again Mr Seselja seeks to simplify what are very complex situations, and it is not a matter of the government apologising for particular decisions that others may have disagreed with.

Mr Seselja interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, you have asked your question.

MS GALLAGHER: I certainly regret any additional distress that has been placed on families and children through their intervention with care and protection that could have been better. I certainly do; I regret it enormously and we need to be better. This is a system that needs to continuously improve—

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order, members! The Chief Minister is answering.

MS GALLAGHER: but there will always be issues with care and protection; it is the nature of the business. There always will be and—

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr Hargreaves: Point of order, Mr Speaker. Surely your patience is starting to run thin—surely. Certainly patience on this side of the chamber is running thin.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hargreaves, thank you. Chief Minister, you have the floor.

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