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Child Protection

19 August 2015

QUESTION WITHOUT NOTICE

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for HUMAN SERVICES, Mrs PETRUSMA
It is now almost three weeks since your department first became aware of the child protection system's epic failure to follow up on at least 151 child protection alerts. How can you expect us to believe that a lengthy review is necessary after three weeks of your department working on it when it must be clear by now what went so terribly wrong? Will you outline to the House how your department became aware and what steps it took while you were being kept in the dark? How can you assure Tasmanians that this total duty-of-care failure on the state's part will never happen again?


ANSWER
As I said before, the department has been working on this issue for the past couple of weeks to try to get a better understanding as to what has happened. When I found out on Monday I asked the acting secretary to conduct a report and investigation into all the circumstances behind it. The department has been working hard to assess all these cases.

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. I warn the entire House. With all the debate going on around the Chamber I cannot hear the Minister. An important question has been asked of the minister and we have a minister behind the Minister attempting to answer the question. All of you are interjecting and behaving in a disorderly manner. The Minister has the call.

Mrs PETRUSMA - Thank you, Madam Speaker. The department is working hard on this issue. Our prime concern is the children. We want to put in place a system that overcomes the fact that we inherited a broken system, which is why we have a number of reforms we are conducting at this stage, including in service delivery. The system is broken down into regions, which is why last year we conducted an independent review of the governance and leadership structure of CYS to ensure optimal arrangements for supporting the delivery of quality services for children and families across Tasmania.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I draw your attention to standing order 195, irrelevance or tedious repetition. The minister is not answering the question that was asked.

Madam SPEAKER - I will make the same ruling. In the interests of not being repetitive in this Chamber, for about the hundredth time, members know the latitude that is given. If a minister is explaining and attempting to answer a question, I am not a mindreader of what the minister is going to say next. I do not know how anybody in this House could predict that. The minister will attempt to answer the question.

Mrs PETRUSMA - Thank you, Madam Speaker. We inherited a broken system and one of the issues raised is that for a number of years the services of CYS have been delivered through a regional service structure, so one of the critical considerations of the review we did last year was how to best oversight service delivery into the future. The report of this review recommended that CYS move to a statewide leadership structure based on outcome streams, bringing it into line with a wide range of other service arrangements across DHHS.

Three statewide core streams have now been put in place: children and families, comprising child protection; out-of-home care; and family violence, with the aim to have a more multidisciplinary team, a dedicated youth stream and a child health and parenting service. This is one of the measures being put in place to try to address this issue. We are not going to pre-empt the outcomes of the report. This is one reform along with a number of other reforms we are putting in place to bring child protection in Tasmania into the twenty-first century.