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Child Protection - Safe Pathways Still in Operation

16 March 2017

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for HUMAN SERVICES, Mrs PETRUSMA
[10.13 a.m.]
Can you explain why a for-profit provider that stands accused of neglecting children in its care is apparently still operating in Tasmania? An email sent to staff on 13 March makes clear that Safe Pathways is still doing business here, yet in a statement from you on 22 December last year you said, 'No new placements would be made with Safe Pathways.' Are they or are they not under investigation? What is the status of that investigation? Why have you not updated the House on the status of that investigation? Given the enormity of the allegations made against them, why is Safe Pathways still apparently operating in Tasmania?

Mr Hodgman - They are apparently not.

Ms O'Connor - They sent an email to staff -

Madam SPEAKER - Order, the member knows she does not have the call. She should not be speaking away from the microphone.


ANSWER
Madam Speaker, just to put it on the record -

Ms O'Connor - I have seen the statement, but they think they are doing business here.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. Is the member interested in the answer?

Mrs PETRUSMA - Just to put it on the record once again in answer the member's question, there is no longer a contract between the Government and Safe Pathways for the care of children due to the concerns and allegations that were raised publicly. There is also no government funding going to Safe Pathways.

The contract for the care of the majority of children in question is now with Oak Possability, a highly respected care provider in Tasmania. In order to minimise disruption to these children Oak Possability use some of their own staff as well as retain some carers and houses, previously used by Safe Pathways as part of the transition.

Ms O'Connor - When are you going to tell us the status of the investigation?

Mrs PETRUSMA - Madam Speaker, they did this back in December. Because it was Christmas time, they did not want to cause any further disruption to these children when Oak Possability took on the contract. Unlike the Opposition, Oak Possability cares about these children.

Ms O'Connor - There was an investigation; we still don't know what happened.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Mrs PETRUSMA - I hope that this is not going to become a witch hunt of a third provider. It seems the Opposition wants to get rid of all out-of-home care providers. If they are saying that Oak Possability is not a well-established excellent provider of care in this state then they should hang their heads in shame.

Opposition members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Mrs PETRUSMA - There is no longer a contract between the Government and Safe Pathways for the care of children and there is no government funding going to Safe Pathways. The investigation into Safe Pathways is ongoing. I repeat again: there is no contract with Safe Pathways.