Ministerial Statement - Residential Care

The Hon. R. SANDERSON (Adelaide—Minister for Child Protection) (14:03): I seek leave to make a ministerial statement.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R. SANDERSON: I rise to correct a series of inaccurate statements that have been made in the media today regarding a visit I undertook to a residential care facility for children in state care in my capacity as the Minister for Child Protection. This morning, the member for Badcoe told ABC radio:

Various sources have told me that the minister was repeatedly advised that it wasn't a good idea to go into this residential care facility.

I can inform the house that I did not receive any advice from my department that I should not visit this facility.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: This is not an invitation to interject.

The Hon. R. SANDERSON: Or, for that matter, any other child protection facility. This has been confirmed by the chief executive of the child protection department, Cathy Taylor, in her statement. To the contrary, I was accompanied by the chief executive of the department to this—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. R. SANDERSON: —and other residential care facilities.

The SPEAKER: The member for West Torrens is called to order already.

The Hon. R. SANDERSON: These visits were planned in advance and supported by the department. This morning, Nev Kitchin, the general secretary to the Public Service Association, told FIVEaa, and I quote:

I can't substantiate anything that's published in the paper today and anything of course that…has been discussed this morning.

In fact, he went on to say:

Our members are always pleased to see Ministers who would attend and go to the areas where they work.

The house should also be aware of the fact that, in opposition, I had previously visited another residential care house in the company of the then minister for child protection, the member for Port Adelaide. Children were present—

An honourable member interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. R. SANDERSON: —and we both engaged in conversations with children and staff. I note the member for Port Adelaide, the deputy leader of the Labor Party, has been totally silent on this issue. The member for Badcoe stated on ABC radio, and I again quote:

These are very serious allegations and I certainly wouldn't have made these allegations without thoroughly researching.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. R. SANDERSON: Given the member for Badcoe's claims that I had visited this residential care facility against departmental advice, I ask her to table her evidence. The member for Badcoe also made a series of claims concerning my interaction with one of the residents. I won't be going into the details regarding that individual—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister has leave.

The Hon. R. SANDERSON: —as it would be inappropriate to do so, but I can inform the house that the member for Badcoe's claims are incorrect. She should know it is completely inappropriate to discuss—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order, members on my right!

The Hon. R. SANDERSON: —individual cases. That includes children, young people, carers or families. I would like to make it clear that the wellbeing of the most vulnerable children of South Australia is my utmost priority. I will not be lectured by members opposite. The Liberal government was elected to clean up Labor's mess.

This is why I will continue to meet with children under my guardianship, including visiting both government and non-government residential care facilities, as well as meeting with foster and kinship carers, as part of the state government's efforts to improve the South Australian child protection system. The member for Badcoe needs to reflect on the fact that she has seriously misled the people of South Australia on a matter relating to our most vulnerable children.