Page 2383 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 31 July 2018

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responsible persons into bottlenecks effectively slows down decision-making instead of speeding it up.

This amendment changes the act in order to list all delegations in a single place, making the law much clearer. It also specifies that responsible persons within approved organisations can sub-delegate these enumerated functions. This means that the caseworkers who work directly with children and young people will be able simply to take what they deem to be the most appropriate actions. The proposed changes specify that the responsible person still bears responsibility for ensuring that the sub-delegated functions are properly exercised. The sub-delegate must also be an employee of the organisation who has skills and qualifications appropriate to the function to be exercised.

I have been assured that the authority to sub-delegate specific functions in no way alters the complaints process. If a parent or carer has concerns about a decision, she or he can still raise that concern. This touches upon a significant point, however, that is, specifically the way in which complaints and concerns are handled within this territory’s care and protection system. I have raised this issue in this chamber on more than one occasion previously, but I remind this Assembly that it is a real issue and that it has not gone and will not simply go away.

In an ABC radio interview with Genevieve Jacobs on 5 October last year, Dr Helen Watchirs, the Human Rights Commissioner, addressed this very concern. Jacobs specifically queried the lack of accountability for decisions made in the care and protection system and Dr Watchirs responded by noting that in the ACT a lot of decisions are not reviewable on their merits as they are in other jurisdictions. This is a problem the Human Rights Commissioner went on to suggest undercuts this government’s alleged commitment to making Canberra a restorative city.

Mr Glanfield himself found specifically that certain CYPS decisions have only a limited form of internal merits review, and some important decisions that are externally merits reviewable in other jurisdictions are not reviewable in the ACT. In addition, decisions made early in the process, such as intake assessment, are not subject to merits reviews and, therefore, there are no formal internal, dedicated and regular quality assurance mechanisms for CYPS decisions. For these reasons the report recommended a review of CYPS decisions that should be subjected to either internal or external merits review.

I was informed in budget estimates hearings a few weeks ago that release of this review is imminent, and I look forward to seeing significant improvements in this area. I also look forward to greater clarity from CYPS itself. Again, in budget estimates hearings, I was told that even the current inadequate complaints process is unclear with parents and carers often not understanding the multiple pathways they might choose around having a decision reviewed, accessing advocacy or taking a complaint process. The assurance is that this clarity will be provided in an updated carer handbook, also imminent.

I and the rest of the Canberra Liberals understand that not all decisions affecting children in out of home care can be made by a single person or even by a small

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