The Hon. R. SANDERSON: I am pleased to advise the house that today I met with the Chief Executive Officer of Grandparents for Grandchildren, Peter Biber, and was able to advise him on behalf of the Marshall Liberal government—
The Hon. R. SANDERSON: I was able to advise him on behalf of the Marshall Liberal government that budget funding of $369,000 over three years has been approved.
The Hon. R. SANDERSON: For weeks now, I have been advocating for Grandparents for Grandchildren to identify funding to support family members who care for children to prevent them from ending up in state care. There have been two aspects to this matter. Firstly, the house will recall that the Nyland royal commission recommendations were handed down in August 2016. Recommendation 116 is:
Fund Connecting Foster Carers, or an appropriate alternative agency, to deliver an advocacy service with paid staff to support carers to access and exercise their rights.
The former government endorsed a KPMG recommendation for a single advocacy body. So on 12 December 2017 a tender was opened, and on 23 January 2018 the process had closed. The submissions for tender are confidential. However, it is well documented that Grandparents for Grandchildren were not successful, and they were notified by the Department for Child Protection on 9 May. On the second matter of recurring funding, on 17 May Mr Biber indicated that for many years Grandparents for Grandchildren—and I quote:
…were invited to submit our requests/budgets for funding in the month of November and were advised of the outcome the following June. We received no such request last November or anytime since.
Mr Biber has indicated that the former government had already signalled there would be no further funding under a Labor government. On 2 May, Peter Biber wrote that his previous dealings with the former Labor government resulted in 'broken commitments and unfulfilled promises'. Grandparents for Grandchildren were repeatedly told, 'Wait for the new department, wait for the new CEO, wait for the tender process to begin and to close.'
A lack of communication during that tender period led Grandparents for Grandchildren to believe that they would be in receipt of ongoing funding as they had been previously regardless of the tender outcome. A decision was made to provide funding for relocation costs, which allowed the organisation to take on a larger office space with a five-year lease without a commitment of future funding to pay the rent. My department has been put under unacceptable financial pressure because of Labor's failure to manage child protection. My first responsibility is always to the children in my care. The best interests of the children and young people under my guardianship are at the heart of all decisions and policies implemented.
I have known Peter Biber for a long time, and I have been an advocate for many organisations in my four years as a shadow minister, and I plan to continue the advocacy role as a minister. I have worked with Peter and my ministerial colleagues through a process that has been measured, considered and respectful of all parties. Under a Marshall Liberal government, South Australians will see responsible decision-making with taxpayers' money.
This announcement has required my advocacy to find a solution where none existed. Grandparent carers in our community play a key role by providing financial, physical and emotional support, while maintaining secure attachments for their grandchildren. So $369,000 from the Marshall Liberal government over three years will make a difference to many. I am pleased that I have been able to deliver this as the Minister for Child Protection.