Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 May 2017) . . Page.. 1603 ..
Years ago, my friend Marion Le described what happened in the care and protection system as institutional abuse. I do not think that we have got much better. We have seen it year on year. We have report after report. It is not just the ACT care and protection system; it is every care and protection system. Yes, it is hard, but we are not getting better at this.
We need transparency. We do not have an opportunity for people to question the decision-making. It does not mean that decisions have to be overturned, but people need at least to have the opportunity to know that their concerns have had a good hearing. At the moment this is not happening.
We have seen the concerns of not just this Public Advocate but the previous Public Advocate. The previous Public Advocate was bullied because she dared to question what was going on in the care and protection system. The previous Public Advocate was bullied because she dared to say that she thought that what was going on in the care and protection system was a breach of the law. There were 24 breaches of the law that she identified. She was bullied over that. I think that is why the Public Advocate has even fewer resources now than the Public Advocate did in 2012. The government did not like hearing what they heard.
I am not satisfied with the commitments from Ms Stephen-Smith, because I have heard them all before. “We are getting on with it. Significant progress is being made.” For once, make a commitment: “Yes, we are going to do it, and we are going to do it now.”
It is not rocket science. Recommendations were made by Vardon, recommendations were made in the Glanfield report, recommendations were made on other occasions and they have been made in other reviews of care and protection systems. Every time I asked questions about reviews of care and protection systems elsewhere, I was told, “We always look at those reviews to see what we can learn from them.” Well, you could have learned this one. They could have learned this one. There needs to be external review of decisions. Certain decisions need to have an external review.
Mrs Jones: No-one is infallible.
MRS DUNNE: Because, as Mrs Jones says, no-one is infallible. No one is infallible. If we really are concerned about the best interests of our children, we should be prepared to open up our decisions for review so that we get the right answers more often than we are currently.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (5.13): I want to run through some of that history that we have heard a little about already. We had the territory as parent review, which is often known as the Vardon report, in 2004. The ACT Labor government was warned through the Vardon review of the care and protection system that there is a critical lack of placement options for children and young people needing care and protection in the territory. We had a report The territory’s children: ensuring safety and quality care for children and young people: report on the audit and case review in 2004.