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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18473


Mrs DRAPER (9:50 AM) —I report today that, sadly, not all reports of child abuse in South Australia are being investigated by the authorities, because the Rann Labor government has reduced funding to Family and Youth Services—FAYS. Yesterday, International Youth Day, it was revealed in the Adelaide Advertiser that more than 450 reports of child abuse and neglect are not being investigated. Young children and teenagers are being put at risk because little or no action is being taken to protect them.

I cannot understand how any government can be so heartless as to cut funds from agencies which protect children from abuse. Have they learned nothing from all the brave men and women who have come forward to reveal the terrible crimes that were committed against them as children? The system failed those children and now the Labor government is failing the children of today.

I know that staff at the Modbury office of FAYS, in my electorate of Makin, are under pressure, as are most state government social welfare agencies. In a recent submission to a state parliamentary inquiry into poverty, the Tea Tree Gully Community Services Forum identified a number of issues where families are being let down by state social welfare agencies. Labor's social justice minister, Stephanie Key, blames the unions—a Labor state government blaming the unions—for this latest crisis in child protection. However, figures released by the Liberal opposition clearly show that her government has reduced FAYS staff funding from $62.8 million in 2001-02 to $58.9 million in 2003-04.

This comes at a time when the South Australian government is receiving around $2.5 billion in GST revenue; yet it is the federal government—which does not see one cent of that GST money—which is taking the lead on this issue by putting it on the national agenda; developing, with the states and territories, a national register for child sex offenders; and establishing a child abuse prevention program and positive parenting programs. This government's clear aim, which I totally support, is to do all that we can to prevent the abuse and neglect of children, and I believe that our priorities are shared by the community.

Mike Rann's government needs to get its priorities right. When it comes to child safety and protection, there can be no excuses. They should all be ashamed of themselves.