Page 1604 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 May 2017
There was the first six-months status report on the implementation of the territory as parent review in 2005. We have had the Children and Young People Death Review Committee; the Public Advocate of the ACT’s response to the nobody’s children inquiry; the Public Advocate of the ACT’s response to the ACT inquiry into respite care services; and the ACT family violence intervention program in 2012.
It is worth noting that the Public Advocate slammed the then-minister saying that care and protection had breached the law 24 times, which had a serious and detrimental impact on the children for whom the director-general had responsibility. That is right, Madam Deputy Speaker; it breached the law 24 times.
Unfortunately, at that time the then-minister’s response was not to address the problems identified. It was to get her own lawyer to disagree with the findings. We have had the profile of family violence in the ACT from the Australian Institute of Criminology in 2007-08. We had a guide to reporting child abuse and neglect in the ACT in 2014. We had a child protection practice paper from ACT Health in July 2013 and the ACT Auditor-General’s Office’s performance audit report of the care and protection system in 2013.
I could keep going on listing the reports and inquiries that we have had. We have had the ACT government response to the report of the Public Advocate on child protection. Last term, in the Eighth Assembly, I was the shadow minister for family and community services and I heard many disturbing stories from families.
Apart from that, we also had the three reports, which the minister has alluded to, in 2016, most notably the Glanfield inquiry, but also the Domestic Violence Prevention Council report and a gap analysis. They all took place in 2016. And yet this week we had another serious breach, this time involving young people in Bimberi.
It seems to go on and on. It is not good enough to say, “Things are already in train; let us wait and see; let us think about it a bit longer and look into it.” If there are things we can be doing, why are we not doing them rather than continuing to come back to this place asking for an update, asking for a report, getting another inquiry?
We have to deal with systemic issues. It is not just about individual cases; it is about the systemic issues that have to be addressed. This disempowers families, children and young people who have been through very difficult circumstances and, at times, tragic circumstances.
In my dialogue with academics and outside experts on this topic, they recommended to me that the department should initiate an independent review at key times in the life of the A step up for our kids model—one, two, three years in—to conduct an objective assessment, working with the directorate to determine the model’s successes and failures.
This is not about scapegoating the department staff or finding fault with the system, because no system is perfect. Whatever mechanisms are employed, the outcome must