Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for EDUCATION, CHILDREN and YOUTH, Mr JAENSCH
The commission of inquiry identified gross and widespread failings in the out-of-home care system. These included inadequate risk assessment and lack of knowledge about individual children. Alarmingly, the commission also found that children were often without case workers and it was unclear if children in out-of-home care were under guardianship orders. These findings were coupled with a wholly inadequate system for reporting and handling of complaints.
Shamefully, children under our care have been neglected or abused and then ignored if they did speak up. The Premier said earlier that the state had received draft chapters of the commission of inquiry's report from February this year. You have had plenty of time to act on the urgent findings within them. Can you confirm that no child in out-of-home care today is without a case worker? That the percentage of child safety worker visits were conducted within the required time frames in 2022-23? Can you guarantee that every child today in out-of-home care is safe?
Mr Speaker, there are a couple of things. The commission of inquiry provided draft chapters or parts of draft chapters of their findings and their report to agencies at various times before finalising their report. As minister, I did not receive them and was not briefed on the content of those chapters. They were provided for very specific reasons of checking factual accuracy and providing advice from the department on matters raised by the commission of inquiry.
Dr Woodruff - You would have been well aware of their concerns about the out-of-home care system.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr JAENSCH - I will reiterate that as a minister I received my copy of the report when the commission concluded its final hearing. I believe the date was 29 August. That is when we first saw the report and were able to look into its content and receive detailed briefings from our agencies.
Our child safety system is all about children being safe. That is why we have a child safety system which is able to assess concerns that have been raised, conduct investigations and, as a last resort where necessary, remove children from their families so they can be less unsafe. Only under the orders of the court, based on evidence, are there orders that enable that to happen - as a last resort. That is where our child safety system intervenes to remove children from unsafe situations and provide for their care.
There is also a range of other processes undertaken before that point to ensure that wherever possible families remain safe places, or are supported to be safe places to raise children.
Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Speaker, point of order, Standing Order 45. I asked the question about whether every child has a case worker today and whether they are all being seen on time.
Mr SPEAKER - Obviously, the minister has not concluded his answer. I will allow the minister to continue please.
Mr JAENSCH - Thank you. It was a very broad ranging question with many assertions built into it -
Dr Woodruff - No, it was a question -
Mr SPEAKER - Order, order.
Mr JAENSCH - which I feel is very important to respond to.
Our child safety system is there when there are reports or concerns that children may be unsafe. Investigations are undertaken, and supports are provided to families wherever possible to assist them to be safe places for children. Where that is not possible -
Dr Woodruff - Please answer the question
Mr JAENSCH - they are taken into the care of the state.
Dr Woodruff - Does every child have a case worker?
Mr SPEAKER - Leader of the Greens, I am sorry but it is completely disrespectful. I have warned you once before. Then you have your second question and you continue to interject on the minister. I am hesitant about sending people out of the Chamber. If you can listen to the answer in silence I will allow the minister to continue.
Mr JAENSCH - Again, in your question, Dr Woodruff, you asked a number of specific questions about numbers as of today, regarding case workers, children, other matters. I will endeavour to get up-to-date figures read into Hansard and respond to you as soon as I can.