Armidale Community Service Centre Caseworkers
|About this Item||Subjects||Electorates: Northern Tablelands; Welfare: New South Wales; Department of Community Services: DOCS
||Speakers||Speaker; Torbay Mr Richard; Meagher Ms Reba
||Business||Questions Without Notice
Mr RICHARD TORBAY: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Community Services. When can Northern Tablelands expect an increase in the number of Department of Community Services front-line caseworkers?
Ms REBA MEAGHER: I acknowledge the interest of the honourable member for Northern Tablelands in advancing the welfare of children and families in the Armidale region. I would like to reassure the honourable member that plans to dramatically increase the number of front-line Department of Community Services [DOCS] caseworkers in the Armidale area are well under way. We are currently advertising in the media for people to join the Armidale community service centre [CSC]. The Iemma Government's $1.2 billion commitment to rebuild the Department of Community Services will see the number of front-line caseworker positions at the Armidale community service centre increase from 8 in 2003 to 18 by the end of the reform program—more than double the current number of front-line case workers at the centre.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Murrumbidgee to order.
Ms REBA MEAGHER: The Government is providing the best possible facilities for staff and the families who use those services. By 2008 Armidale will have a child protection team, an out-of-home care team and an early intervention team. The centre will offer a full spectrum of services to children, young people and families in the area. This increased level of service will not be limited to people in Armidale. Whether it is families in Guyra, Uralla or Walcha, the Iemma Government will work with them every step of the way. Central to the service upgrade will be the establishment of the early intervention program, which is part of the new direction of the Iemma Government to support vulnerable families.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Upper Hunter will come to order.
Mr Brad Hazzard: Point of order: My point of order is relevance. What has Torbay got that Barr hasn't? Down at Manly there are no Department of Community Services officers at all. They took them away.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Wakehurst will resume his seat. I call him to order.
Mr Brad Hazzard: What has Torbay got that Barr hasn't got?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Wakehurst to order. The Minister for Community Services has the call and will complete her reply.
Ms REBA MEAGHER: The interjection by the honourable member for Wakehurst is extraordinary. He served as a shadow Minister in this portfolio and he failed. He failed to shift the Coalition policy to cut the DOCS budget by $700 million and reduce the work force by 675 front-line caseworkers. He failed.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is too much calling out in the Chamber. The Minister for Community Services will be heard in silence.
Ms REBA MEAGHER: It is very interesting to see that the Coalition is shuffling the deck chairs. We now have shadow Minister for Community Services number five since January last year, when I assumed responsibility for Community Services.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Southern Highlands to order.
Ms REBA MEAGHER: All of the four previous shadow Ministers failed to ensure that the Coalition would stand up to Canberra and offer a better deal to families in New South Wales. They did not stand up for vulnerable children or families. Each one of them failed to change Coalition policy. I sincerely congratulate the honourable member for Hornsby on her elevation to the shadow front bench. But, let me say, the challenge before her is an obvious one: to ensure that the Coalition renounces its policy to cut $700 million from the DOCS budget.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Willoughby will come to order.
Ms REBA MEAGHER: The Coalition should match the Iemma Government.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Willoughby to order for the second time.
Ms REBA MEAGHER: We are building the strongest network of care possible for vulnerable families across New South Wales. The children and families of New South Wales deserve it. The Coalition policy will not impact just on metropolitan areas. It will decimate services in the bush.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Upper Hunter to order.
Ms REBA MEAGHER: Jobs will be lost in country areas and community service centres in those areas will be closed. That will mean the families of Guyra, Walcha, Uralla and Armidale will go without these valuable services. The Iemma Government is committed to investing in families and providing a network of support for vulnerable children. That is in contrast to the heartless policy of the Coalition. The Coalition will not renounce its proposed cuts to this government agency. Over the course of this week we have seen that the Leader of the Opposition does not have any character. It is up to the honourable member for Hornsby to demonstrate he has a heart.