Output group 5
Independent children's review services
5.1 Office of the Commissioner for Children -
Mr FINCH - In respect of the Office of the Commissioner for Children, I have just one straightforward question. Why has the travel and transport funding been withdrawn? In fact, on that table there are some items that have been withdrawn to 100 per cent.
Mr AIRD - What are you referring to?
Mr FINCH - Page 172, Table 5.11 - Operating Expenses. Travel and transport has been eliminated, along with information technology and property services, but I am more interested in travel and transport. How does he get around the State? How does he travel interstate - pushbike?
Mr Dean - We have worked it out.
Mrs Smith - Other supplies and consumables.
Mr AIRD - It could be either other supplies and consumables or it could be -
Mrs Smith - If you go to other supplies and consumables there is $11 000 and if you add that $29 000 it comes up to $40 000. So they have $4 000 extra.
Mr AIRD - I will clarify that. I am not too sure. The other thing about this is that this is a creation of a new output group. This did not exist in budget papers before so I think they have probably reallocated it. It could have been something like a one?off cost in any event, in terms of travel and transport last year. I do not know. That is why we have to find out the history of these things. But I do not think it is going to affect the operations of the Office of the Commissioner for Children.
Mr Finch - That is the point, isn't it? I wanted to make sure that it is statewide and they can travel interstate?
Mr AIRD - We have increased the general allocation in annual appropriation by 2.1 per cent and there would be no way that we would inhibit the travel in terms of best practice and proper budgeting, of course. This is not an issue where we want to see the commission encumbered in any way. I think, by the looks of things here, it is being absorbed probably into other supplies and consumables but I am not too sure. Once I find out I will let the honourable member know.
Mr Finch - Thanks very much.
Mr AIRD - Have you more?
Mr FINCH - Yes.
Mr AIRD - Okay.
Mr FINCH - Does the commissioner's office have any involvement -
Mr Aird - There isn't any green cordial around is there?
Mr FINCH - Red. I drink plenty of red.
Mr FINCH - Does the commissioner's office have any involvement in the screening of people who work with children in the education system? Is that part of his or her role?
Mr AIRD - The commissioner does not have any direct role but the commissioner has the capacity to provide policy advice to the Government about how to go about its business, whether it is this area or in other areas, concerning children. I am sure that he would have, in this instance of a male occupant, the capacity to provide advice relating to these types of issues but of a broader, general policy nature rather than specific direct involvement in the issue. By way of explanation, the Registration of Teachers Act provides for a link in terms of the relationship between the Education department and the police service in administering the act in terms of the screening that goes on in relation to that act. There is no deliberate role for the commissioner within that act but notwithstanding that, he still has the capacity, if he feels there is an interest in terms of his role as the Commissioner for Children, to provide advice about how better we may go about our business in terms of ensuring the protection of children.
Mr FINCH - Thanks. Leader, are ex gratia payments made under the Listen to the Children payments made conditional upon the claimant not pursuing compensation through the courts and, if so, is the department aware of any likely claims that may come through the courts?
Mr AIRD - As you would expect, there is a sign-off clause in terms of no further legal action against the Crown in signing settlement of these matters. Therefore from those who have signed there would not be any anticipated legal claim. Once you have signed off there cannot be any future legal claim against the Crown.
Mr Finch - Are you aware of any that might be taking their claims further?
Mr AIRD - You do not know. There would be some outstanding offers which have not been settled as yet. I think you can only say at the end of the process that those outstanding have not accepted the offer and have reserved their right to take whatever action they think they are legally able to. Until you get to the end of the process there will be, as we speak, offers not settled and therefore they have not signed off. If they do not sign off then I guess potentially there may be an avenue to take legal action.
Mr Finch - How many have signed off, do you know?
Mr AIRD - We do not know the exact number but we will get that for you if you like.
Mr Finch - Yes, okay, but I can do that through further questioning in question time.
Mr AIRD - Something to look forward to.
Item agreed to.