Page 3133 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013

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DR BOURKE: Absolutely, Madam Speaker. I refer to the latest report of the care and protection milestone review panel. Can you provide the Assembly an overview of the report’s findings, please, minister?

MS BURCH: I thank Dr Bourke for his question. I am pleased to inform the Assembly that I have received the fourth and final report of the milestone review panel. The creation of the panel was one of the recommendations of last year’s report by the ACT Public Advocate, and the milestone review panel was established to monitor the implementation of the reforms to care and protection over the crucial first year. The panel members were Narelle Hargreaves, Graeme Bashford and Anita Phillips. All three have done a terrific job, and I take this opportunity to thank each of them for their work, which has genuinely strengthened the oversight of these crucial reforms.

In this report the panel advised that 10 of the 19 projects were complete and that a further six are planned for completion by December this year. The panel said it was impressed by the discipline instilled by the project management process which has been embraced throughout the directorate. Furthermore, the panel acknowledged that arrangements are in place to deliver a flagship integrated management system.

The panel also expressed enthusiasm about the technology for the online knowledge portal from the Bimberi integrated management system, or what is referred to as the IMS. When applied to other areas of the office for children, the portal will be the single biggest factor in changing both the practice of service delivery and the ease with which the directorate staff carry out their roles.

Panel member Anita Phillips recently told the public accounts committee that she is:

… very pleased with the progress that the office for children and young people have been making in response to the recommendations that I made.

She went on to say that this is a long-term project that is going to take some time but that she had been made aware of some very positive and impressive improvements.

Of course, the work of protecting our vulnerable children can always be improved on. No-one will ever be able to say we have got it right and it will stay right. Despite the positive report of the milestone review panel, I am not claiming that today. I am more than aware of the ongoing work that systems such as care and protection need, not only in the ACT but across the country.

The panel also noted some areas that need careful monitoring, and I agree with them. They noted, for example, the success of the models and system changes will be reliant on recruitment, retention and training of quality staff. We know this and are certainly putting enhanced effort into this with ongoing training and support and, indeed, for front-line workers retention payments in recognition of the tough, tough work they do.

Overall, however, it is pleasing to see the improvements that have been made, and I thank the panel members for their hard work. I also take this opportunity to recognise the work of the care and protection workers themselves.

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