Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management

Ministerial Statement – Keeping Children and Young People Safe

24 May 2022

[12.17 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management) – Mr Speaker, I rise to congratulate the Premier on his ministerial statement today. 

I have had the honour and privilege of working with Mr Rockliff for over 12 years and I know how passionate and how much he wants, as everyone in this House does, to ensure that our children and young people are kept safe; that Tasmania is the safest place in which to be a child or a young person; and to live in and work in and raise a family.  It is of the utmost importance to this Government and to everyone in this House because every child and young person in Tasmania has the right to be safe, which is why children and young people’s safety is everyone’s responsibility.

I acknowledge everyone’s contribution today.  Ms O’Connor, I too had the privilege of going to the Support Our Survivors event.  To be quite honest, it was very emotional, talking to Tiffany and Alisha at the time and to other victims/survivors there.  I thank them and acknowledge their bravery and their families’ and the support people’s bravery in encouraging them to come forward.

It is very hard as a victim/survivor to come forward and to share your story.  Sometimes it can take years to be where you feel that you can do that.  To everyone who has come forward and shared their stories, from the bottom of my heart, the Government’s heart, and everyone in this Chamber’s heart, thank you.  We cannot change what we do not know, which is why we are encouraging people to come forward and share their stories.  It is the only way that we can learn lessons from what has happened in the past so that we can make the future a safer place for our children and young people. 

Along with the Premier and this Government and this whole House, I offer my deepest and most heartfelt apology to all victims and survivors of abuse that has occurred in government institutions and to reiterate what the Premier said:  we hear you, we believe you.  On behalf of governments past and present, we are very sorry that we failed you. 

I thank the Premier for saying that we will be making a formal apology on behalf of the Tasmanian Parliament.  In 2012, we made a formal apology on forced adoptions.  That was a very powerful experience for the members who were here, but also I know for the people who had been victims/survivors.  I welcome that happening when it is the right time.  It’s important that when we do have that opportunity it will be another part in the healing process.

To all victims/survivors, we encourage you to keep on coming forward to the commission of inquiry. We want you to know that the Government is listening, but more important, for the sake of children today and for children born tomorrow, the Government is acting.

Statement noted.