MINISTER for HUMAN SERVICES, Mrs PETRUSMA
Final Report Abuse in State Care
6 November, 2014


[10.54 a.m.]

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question as well as her compassion and commitment to children in this state. The final report for the Tasmanian claims of abuse in state care program will today be released, highlighting both the courage of individuals who shared their stories and our tripartisan commitment of past and present Tasmanian governments and members of parliament to support victims of abuse in state care.

Tremendous work has been done by many people over the past decade as part of Australia’s first ex gratia payment program and the longest running redress scheme for victims of abuse in state care. This program was established in 2003 to acknowledge the past failures of the out of home care system and to help those who had been abuse in state government care.

This report, which will be publicly available on the DHHS website, summarises and marks the closure of the fourth and final round. Through tripartisan support the program has helped more than 1 800 people with ex gratia payments totalling over $54 million in four separate rounds.

During the fourth and final round 491 applications were received and 394 individuals received ex gratia payments. The work of the program was completed in late 2013 and this final report acknowledges the impact on the survivors who took the brave step and opened up about the most tragic and painful past of their lives. These victims have experienced physical, psychological and social impacts, which also affected their capacity to maintain relationships and trust people.

It is the sincere hope of Government, and I am sure of all members of this House, that the survivor’s courage in coming forward has led to some measure of personal healing and closure during a difficult and emotional time. The courage people had shown has also shone a light on the past failures of the out of home care system. We have learnt and will continue to learn from their stories. These lessons will influence how we run out of home care systems in the future.

We cannot afford to fail another generation of children in state care. As a result of the learnings over the last decade Government has steadily improved carer recruitment, assessment, training, review and monitoring. A standardised tool for assessing prospective carers is now in place, together with more rigorous processes for responding to allegations of abuse in care. In addition, Tasmania has adopted national standards for out of home care to strengthen the care and support of children and young people in state care.

Assistance also continues to be available for individuals who experienced abuse in state care through the Abuse in State Care Support Service. The support service provides financial assistance in the areas of counselling, medical needs, education, employment, personal development and family relationships. I would encourage any individual who needs further support to contact the Support Service on 1300 654 583.