Page 1602 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 May 2017
that time, and subsequently, there have been outrageously atrocious decisions made which are supposedly in the best interests of the child.
I know, and we all know, that some of those decisions have resulted in deaths. Some of those decisions have resulted in injuries. As a result of this, I do not think that I can sit here and again stomach a platitudinous speech from the minister saying, “Everything is fine. We’re doing the work. We’re getting on with the job.” The Glanfield report came down a bit more than a year ago. If we were acting in the best interests of the child, we would have done something about it. Also, we have to remember that the Glanfield inquiry was not the first inquiry to talk about this. Back before I was the shadow minister for community services, the Vardon report called for the same thing. We do not have the level of transparency and the opportunity for interested parties in the ACT to call upon someone to second-guess a decision.
I understand, and Ms Le Couteur points out, the huge pressure that the staff in care and protection are under, the enormity of their caseload. We all understand that. That is why you need to have a review process. They are under the pump, and they sometimes get it wrong. They think that they are doing the right thing, but it is not necessarily always in the best interests of the child.
We have seen deaths. We have seen injuries. We should not be in the situation where the review of these things comes about through the child death review panel. We should be reviewing these decisions before it gets to that.
There are a number of occasions that I have personally dealt with, and that I cannot talk about in detail, where I can tell you that I have received briefings to the effect: “Mrs Dunne, don’t you worry. This has happened and that has happened.” When you get back to the family, you discover that those things have not happened. I have had confidential briefings where I have had to call departmental staff back in to account for why they told me one thing when it was not true.
That happened more than once on my watch and I am sure that it happened when Ms Lawder was in the position. Mrs Kikkert is new to this position, but I will lay you quids that before her term as the shadow minister is out, she will find a circumstance where she will have to haul back someone who has given her a confidential briefing and ask them to clarify. And then they will sit there shamefacedly, going all red in the face, and say, “Oh, well, it wasn’t really like that.” That should never happen.
There are circumstances where decisions are made and adolescents, in particular, do not have a say in decisions made about themselves. There are cases that we all know of. All of us in this place know of cases where adolescents have had their wishes overridden. If you want to talk about them out of this place, Ms Stephen-Smith, I can give you chapter and verse. Adolescents had their decisions overridden. Families with interests, relatives with interests, had their decisions overridden. It was not just grandparents, but aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, who wanted to be part of the process, who were sometimes led down the garden path and then had decisions reversed and all manner of things.