DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY SERVICES FOSTER CARE
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Community Services. In view of the Minister’s answer yesterday relating to the two children aged 11 years and 13 years living in a humpy in the bush near Blacktown Pistol Club at Shalvey, will he agree that section 60(2) of the Children (Care and Protection) Act 1987 gives him and officers of his department explicit powers to remove any child in need of care where that child is not subject to the supervision or control of a responsible adult or living in, or habitually frequenting, a public place? Given that the children’s mother contacted the department many times over the past six months, and that under section 60(2) the Minister clearly has a legislative power and duty, why did he and the department not act sooner?
The Hon. R. D. DYER: The first point that should be made in response to the Hon. Virginia Chadwick is that the children in question are not now living in a humpy: they are both in forms of care.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: She asked why didn’t you act sooner?
The Hon. R. D. DYER: The honourable member used the present tense. One is in Ormond and the other is in foster care. On prior occasions the child in question has previously absconded from a number of placements, including Ormond. The Hon. Virginia Chadwick referred to contact over six months. If she refers to my response yesterday she will learn that this matter has a history going back six years, not six months. Four years of that six-year history actually occurred under the aegis of the former Government. I certainly do not intend to take legal advice from the Hon. Virginia Chadwick, who virtually destroyed the department. I would also add that if I were inclined to give legal advice to the honourable member, I would be inclined to charge for it. The Children (Care and Protection) Act certainly includes powers of removal. However, that does not bring us to the point where, removal having occurred, the children abscond, as they have on many occasions during the history of this matter. The Hon. Virginia Chadwick appears to be slow to absorb this fact. The powers of removal do not include powers of confinement or restraint. I regret that the honourable member appears not to be able to comprehend the clear legal position.