Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 November 1994



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 November 1994

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Parliamentary Record 6


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 23 November 1994 Mr BELL: A point o f order, Mr Deputy Speaker! I will cop low-life, but fraudulent is going too far. Mr FINCH: I withdraw the word fraudulent, Mr Deputy Speaker. I will clarify the reasons for which I obviously despise, particularly on behalf o f the Department o f Education and the Department o f Law, the comments made earlier in 2 separate attacks, in both o f which the comments were totally unfounded and made without any evidence or cause. He suggested that the Department o f Education has no clear written guidelines on how schools are to deal with critical incidents such as child abuse. A simple question to my office or to the Department o f Education would have elicited that a document o f some 30 to 40 pages has been printed and distributed to all schools. It is titled Critical Incidents - Interim Policy. It is an interim document because, naturally enough, before producing its final policy, the department will await the final outcome o f the inquiry to which the member for Wanguri later referred. I table that document for the benefit o f the honourable member. He referred, o f course, to the document from Dripstone High School. I believe that was the document to which he was referring. A copy o f that was given to me last week. Clearly, the document was developed at the initiative o f the school and I commend it for that. I table that document also. A reading o f that document indicates that it was based on the departments interim policy for the handling o f critical incidents relating not only to child abuse but to any matter in the school arena. Honourable members would be well aware that the critical incidents policy has been implemented on a number o f occasions. In recent times, there have been a number o f incidents, in government and non-government schools, where departmental officers, student services and the Behavioural Management Unit have utilised the policy to minimise damage and to ensure that order was restored as quickly as possible. The member said - and it is not absurd when you know his mind - that a number o f reports over many years were not dealt with. That claim is totally without foundation or basis in fact. He referred to an inquiry - and there have been a number - by the Office o f the Public Service Commissioner. That inquiry was initiated by the Department o f Education to ensure that all parties would have confidence that an external party was investigating the matter. To say that this inquiry had anything to do with the member, as he claimed, is a nonsense. He was not the initiator. He came along as a latterday Johnny to put his bib into the exercise. The department called for the review. The review was halted temporarily, but not for the reasons described by the honourable member. He questioned quite despicably the motives o f the department and the minister. He said also that the department has deliberately moved to have that inquiry stopped in order not to help parents. What an absolutely despicable comment! To put the record straight, the inquiry by the independent officer o f the Office o f the Public Service Commissioner was halted as a result o f clear advice from the Department o f Law that to proceed with such an inquiry might very well prejudice a court case that was still current. The honourable member was advised o f that by my ministerial officer and has chosen obviously to ignore it. He suggested, and I use his words again, that the inquiry could have been dealt with in such a way as to have no effect whatever on the court case. That is rot! I f he thinks that he has better legal advice than is provided by the Department of 1869