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Maharey Fiddles While CYFS Burns

ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman has questioned why Social Services Minister Steve Maharey is waiting for the Government’s 2001 Budget before tackling the rapidly escalating crisis in the Department of Child Youth and Family Services.

“The Minister has a report in front of him which catalogues a disaster of mishandled abuse cases, plummeting staff morale and a department which is generally falling apart at the seams. Action is needed right now – not in months time.

“By saying, wait until the Budget, the Minister is repeating the mantra from his Opposition days that money is the cure-all for CYFS. Well it isn’t. Labour had nine years in Opposition to think about what they would do about this country’s horrendous child abuse record and all they could come up with is throwing some more money at the problem.

“In his 15 months as Minister Steve Maharey has presided over a doubling of unallocated suspected abuse cases to nearly 4000, record child abuse notifications and a department which is severely damaged and demoralised. He has run out of whatever ideas he ever had to tackle the problem.

“The solution must involve a collaborative and integrated approach to child welfare, with experienced health, welfare, special education and police professionals working together in a single new community based agency. For the first time, such an agency should be clearly accountable for reducing child abuse in that community.

“While this Minister, clearly out of his depth, sits contemplating budget figures our children are being mistreated, hurt, maimed and killed. If something is on fire you put it out before it is destroyed – you don’t wait a few months. At the moment this Minister is simply fiddling while CYFS burns,” Dr Newman said.


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