GLENFIELD PARK SPECIAL SCHOOL
The Hon. DOROTHY ISAKSEN: Will the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs inform the House why the Glenfield Park Special School is refusing to accept more boarders when there are apparently vacancies? Is the school reducing its intake or are there plans to have the school closed?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I assure the honourable member that the variety of services available at Glenfield Park Special School will continue. It is not intended that any aspect of the complex be abandoned. A move is in train to scale down the fairly large boarding and residential institutional component of Glenfield Park. That is in line with the policy which I believe has bipartisan support of moving away from institutionalisation. A number of families and children have come to rely heavily on the use of that boarding accommodation component of Glenfield Park. It is for that reason that a boarding component will continue, to keep faith with and assist the families involved. From memory a residential component will be retained for about 42 children at Glenfield Park. I have no hesitation in telling the House that it was a difficult decision for me to balance my personal views about the desirability of maintaining a residential institutional setting for children, many of whom have intellectual disabilities and or are emotionally disturbed. It is not something that sits altogether comfortably with me.
I was conscious of the large number of representations that had been made and the high level of concerns and anxiety. Therefore I have maintained a residential component. My understanding is that the excellent assistant director general and his team in the southwest region will be developing more home-like cottage aspects. I know that Alan Laughlan, the assistant director general, is keen to develop a parents support and link program as well as day attendance. It is hoped that the small scale, more non-institutional model can be adopted throughout New South Wales to assist children in this special category. I should be astonished if the Hon. Dorothy Isaksen thought that the soundest policy in terms of the needs of young persons in a statewide service for children who are disturbed or disabled was for them to be so far away from homes and families. I assure the honourable member that if the number of children involved is not 42, I shall let her know. Given her interest in this subject, if she would like any further detail about Glenfield Park and the proposals for its future, my office will be delighted to provide it.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I suggest that if honourable members have further questions, they place them on the notice paper.