Published: 16 March 2017

Legislative Council Thursday 16 March 2017

Child Protection - Safe Pathways

Ms  FORREST  question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Dr GOODWIN [2.40 p.m.]

With regard to the care of vulnerable children in the state and provision of services by Safe Pathways, a number of serious allegations have been raised.  Is Safe Pathways still operating in Tasmania in any capacity with the children in state care, including at an operational or administrative level?

 

ANSWER 

Mr President, the Crown no longer has any placement contracts for children in out of home care with Safe Pathways.  As has been stated publicly the placement contracts for the children were severed between DHHS and Safe Pathways in December.  The secretary of the DHHS is under no obligation to place children with Safe Pathways now or in the future.

 All children previously placed by the secretary in the care of Safe Pathways have been transferred to other suitable carers or providers.  These other providers are bound by the service, quality, staffing and other requirements of their funding agreements.  The department is currently finalising the final financial acquittals for the previous placements of children with Safe Pathways.

Child Protection - Safe Pathways

 Ms  FORREST  question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Dr GOODWIN [2.41 p.m.]

I know that the Leader will not have an answer to this possibly today but supplementary to that question - I sent these a few days ago and there has been more development since - I am interested to know whether Safe Pathways has been contracted or subcontracted by any of the other providers to provide services in that area?

ANSWER

Mr President, I am afraid we do not have an answer to that one. 

Child Protection - Safe Pathways

 Ms  FORREST  question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Dr GOODWIN  [2.41 p.m.]

Safe Pathways was contracted by the Government to provide care for vulnerable children in the state during 2016.  A number of serious allegations have been raised publicly.  Safe Pathways was required to provide a range of services under the therapeutic care plan, as detailed in the contractual agreement with the Government.  Given the evidence the obligations under their agreement were not being met -

   (1)  What audits, reviews or other actions were undertaken to ensure Safe Pathways was meeting their contractual obligations?

   (2)  How much was paid to Safe Pathways between February and August 2016?

   (3)  What action, if any, has the Minister for Human Services taken to recoup a conservatively estimated amount of $2.6 million of taxpayer funds estimated to have been paid to Safe Pathways between February and August 2016?

ANSWER

Mr President, I thank the member for  Murchison  for her question.  The department undertakes a range of actions in relation to monitoring and responding to out-of-home care provider contractual obligations.  As is publicly known, the department initiated formal reviews of Safe Pathways in 2016.  In relation to payments made to Safe Pathways, the department is currently finalising the final financial acquittals for the previous placements of children with Safe Pathways.  Following this process the final cost of services will be determined.  However, the amount of $2.6 million is highly inflated.

 

Child Protection - Safe Pathways

 Ms  FORREST  question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Dr GOODWIN  [2.43 p.m.]

With regard to the care of vulnerable children in the state and provision of services by Safe Pathways -

   (1)  Has the minister had any conversations with any staff from Safe Pathways who raised specific issues regarding children in out-of-home care between August 2016 and March 2017?  If so, what matters were raised by staff, either employees at the time of Safe Pathways or those that have been employed since Safe Pathways commenced operations within Tasmania?

   (2)  What response did the minister provide to the staff to the concerns and issues raised and if not, why not? 

ANSWER

 Mr President, I thank the member for  Murchison  for her question. 

   (1)  Ministerial staff in the Minister for Human Services office have not met and spoken with Safe Pathways staff.  Under the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997, section 103(1)(a), as the matters raised by staff included personal information relating to a child, this information cannot be divulged.

   (2)  The concerns raised were forwarded to Child Safety Services as per protocol for investigation and for inclusion in the review.

 

Child Protection - Safe Pathways

 Ms  FORREST  question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Dr GOODWIN

 With regard to the care of vulnerable children in this state, the provision of services by Safe Pathways, and the number of serious allegations raised -

   (1)  Is the minister aware that Safe Pathways instructed its managing staff to use private email addresses, such as Hotmail addresses, to which the child protection agency passed on highly confidential information regarding children in the care of the state?

  (2)  Is the minister aware of the unsafe condition case workers were required to operate under whilst working for Safe Pathways, including having vulnerable children living in their own homes and having to use their own mobile phones and money to provide essential food and clothing for the children?

   (3)  If the minister is not aware of these matters, why not?

   (4)  If the minister was made aware of these matters, when did the minister become aware of these matters?  What was done about it?  When was action taken, and what action was taken?

 ANSWER 

Mr President, I thank the member for  Murchison  for her question.  In response to all her questions, as per statements made in parliament and through media statements, all allegations brought to the department and minister's attention regarding Safe Pathways are the subject of review.

 

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