Page 5548 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2011

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be impacted. But as all of the participants in the working group towards a new institutional structure have indicated, protection of existing conditions under existing EBAs is an important part of that process.

Of course, there are different industrial conditions that apply currently to the tertiary sector as opposed to the vocational and education training sector. Over time if there is, as is anticipated in Australia, a greater blurring of the roles between the traditional VET providers and higher education providers in the university sector, then you will see conditions evolve over time as the nature of these institutions evolves.

Children and young people—care and protection

MR DOSZPOT: My question is to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, in March this year, an officer in your directorate drew to the attention of a senior manager the risk that Northern Bridging Support Services was not authorised as a suitable entity. As you know, the directorate had placed and continued to place vulnerable at-risk children in the care of NBSS for residential care services. Minister, after more than seven months, why has your directorate done nothing—and still has done nothing—to assess the status of NBSS as a suitable entity?

MS BURCH: NBSS is used through the out-of-home care sector as a transport agency, and I think, as we have said here before, the advice from the Solicitor-General is that we can use NBSS as a matter of last resort when there are no other alternatives for providing services and care to children.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Doszpot.

MR DOSZPOT: The minister has not actually answered my question, Mr Speaker. Can I have the question answered before I ask a supplementary?

MR SPEAKER: No, you can ask your supplementary.

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, knowing as you did since at least March this year that NBSS was not authorised as a suitable entity, why did your directorate continue to place children in the care of NBSS for residential care services?

MS BURCH: I think I have answered that. In those placement times, we went to the out-of-home care sector. There were no placements available, so we went to NBSS, which were often known to these families. We thought that that was a sound, suitable alternative, other than leaving them where they were, which was at risk.

MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, did your directorate just simply ignore the warning given internally in March this year about the risks that NBSS was not authorised as a suitable entity? If yes, why did it ignore those warnings? If no, what was the government’s response to those warnings?

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