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Minister Evades Question on Number of Children Waiting for Family Violence Counselling

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Tags: Family Violence, Mental Health, Children and Young People


As you are aware, former Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, will today launch the Commissioner for Children's report, Children and Young People's Unique Experience of Family Violence.  According to Tasmania Police data, in 2014 there were 1256 children recorded as being present at family violence incidents.  That already confronting number has since skyrocketed, with police data confirming that in 2016, two years after the Liberals took office, 1757 children were reported as exposed to family violence.  That is an increase of 501 in just two years.  On your watch, according to Safe at Home's annual report, the number of children receiving counselling has actually fallen during that period.  How can that be?  The Department of Health and Human Services annual report 2014-15 also confirms that the waiting list of traumatised children needing counselling has soared.  Can you tell the House the exact number of children who are receiving counselling and how many are still suffering on the waiting list?  How can it be that, despite the huge increase in children reported as being exposed to family violence, the services they need still are not there to support them?


Madam Speaker, this Government has been proactive right from coming into government in regard to family violence.  We invested an extra $26 million into tackling family violence.  That included extra millions of dollars for counselling services for children.  Yes, there has been an increase in children coming forward for counselling but I am delighted to say children are receiving counselling.  All children receive counselling if they need it, but the waiting list is down to 61 because we invested an extra $4 million into counselling services.

We not only have the CHYPP program, but also CatholicCare delivering extra services for children and the Australian Childhood Foundation delivering services for children to receive counselling.  It has taken a Liberal Hodgman Government to fund an extra $26 million, including an extra $4 million into additional counselling support services for children.  If we go back to March 2014 the previous government had a whopping 117 children waiting for counselling services.  This Government is determined that we will look after the children who, sadly, experience family violence.  That is why we have been willing to invest a lot of extra millions of dollars into counselling services and the waiting list is down to 61.

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  The minister is attempting to answer the initial question.

Mrs PETRUSMA - Children who come onto the wait list are all actively managed.  Each child is triaged and priority cases are provided with immediate short-term support, or referred to another provider or a private practitioner.  Children receive weekly support via telephone contact from the Counselling Support Services and can also access other services through Medicare.  This extra $4 million that has gone into counselling services for both adults and for children has resulted in a dramatic reduction in children waiting for counselling services down to 61.  We are coping with the children.  There is an extra $4 million.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker.  The question was quite clear.  It was that we need contemporary data on the number of children who are waiting and the number of children who are being counselled.

Madam SPEAKER - No, the member knows my rules in relation to that.  The minister has addressed numerous questions.  It was not just one question there was a preamble as well.  That opens up a whole range of things that the minister can say.  If you want to restrict them you can restrict your question.