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Child Protection - Safe Pathways

16 November 2016

Ms O'CONNOR  question to MINISTER for HUMAN SERVICES, Mrs PETRUSMA

[10. 11 a.m.]

Yesterday you told the House all 11 children currently in the care of Safe Pathways would be visited by a Child Protection officer. 

Are these children receiving more than $100 a week worth of food? 

Can you let the House know whether they have adequate food and clothing and that they are not being housed in caravan parks? 

Can you explain how you allowed your department to enter into a funding agreement with a private for-profit provider, which charges taxpayers more than $9000 a week per child, while spending a fraction of that on the children in their care.  With 11 children who are with Safe Pathways, can you confirm that the cost of this contract with this for-profit provider just this week is in the vicinity of $100 000? 

Are you able to detail when the funding agreement with Safe Pathways commenced, and the total value of this contract to a company which appears to be reaping enormous profits at the expense of already damaged children.

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question.  It was not this Government that first outsourced special care packages and residential care.  In fact we were not the first government to outsource -

Opposition members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I am not going to put up with constant interjections.  The minister is attempting to answer a number of questions and should be given the opportunity to do so.

Mrs PETRUSMA - We were not the first government to outsource to for-profit organisations.  The previous government outsourced quite a wide area; most of Human Services were outsourced.  All of a sudden they are against outsourcing, including to for-profit organisations that have been delivering services for a number of years.

The acting secretary has assured me that each of these 11 young people has been contacted by Child Safety Services.  I have been assured that each is safe and receiving appropriate care.

In regard to funding, the terms of reference will also be looking at the financial management of Safe Pathways.  A review is being undertaken, a full investigation is occurring.  This Government is determined that all children in Tasmania will receive the care they deserve and need.  That is why we are taking this issue very seriously.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order.  The minister is not answering the question, which was about the funding agreement and how much taxpayers are paying this organisation.

Madam SPEAKER - I counted four questions within the one question.  I have given a lot of latitude to all members this morning and this week.  Some questions have gone on for almost five minutes.  The minister is given the same latitude in answering the questions.

Ms O'Connor - This is about transparency.

Mrs PETRUSMA - We are being transparent within the boundaries of the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act.  The department is determined that a proper and full investigation will be undertaken of Safe Pathways.  Our priority is to make sure these children are safe and that is what the department will ensure.

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I warn the member for Denison, Ms O'Connor.