Wednesday, 17 May 2023





Lizzie BLANDTHORN (Western Metropolitan – Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Minister for Child Protection and Family Services) (18:14): A number of members have raised matters, and two members have raised matters for me, so I will deal with those first.

Dr Bach raised a matter for my attention as Minister for Child Protection and Family Services regarding a meeting that he attended in Dandenong last week. I do at the outset thank him for acknowledging that I was not at that meeting. I was at the Yoorrook Justice Commission providing important and I hope helpful evidence to the commission. I take this opportunity to thank the commission and the commissioners and their council for the work that they are doing. I am disappointed. I thought Dr Bach was interested in the answer to this question, but he is not here. But I do thank him for acknowledging why I was not at the meeting that he had last week. I did pick up on Mr Tarlamis’s interjection as well that he was not actually invited to this meeting either, even though it falls within the area that Mr Tarlamis represents. I note that in the future perhaps Mr Tarlamis would like to be invited by Dr Bach to such a meeting as well. I will also acknowledge that Dr Bach acknowledged that at the time he met with these constituents and organisations back in November last year I was not actually the responsible minister, but I am very concerned about the same issues that he is.

We do all agree, and I think everyone in this chamber agrees, that there is an over-representation of Indigenous children in the child protection system. As we have all said, and as I said at the Yoorrook hearings last week, this is completely unacceptable, and our government has already indicated that we are committed to doing what we can to ensure that these shameful numbers are reduced. To that end I have been really pleased in the time that I have actually been the minister to meet with Aboriginal community controlled organisations and talk to them about what they think are the things that would assist in reducing the over-representation and ensuring that we protect the human rights of First Peoples children and that they get access to holistic family and child protection services that will ensure the safety and wellbeing of First Peoples children and indeed their families and their whole communities. I have been really touched by the generous and informative interactions that I have had, and indeed those that I have had with the Premier and many ACCOs, in relation to the things that they think would assist in improving the system, from things such as flexible funding and place-based solutions through to whether we look at the system as a whole. I completely agree that we need more early intervention and we need greater wraparound services, and as I have said a number of times, we need to be concentrating on the reunification of families. I thank Dr Bach for his matter. I can assure him that these are issues that our government is committed to and is working on, and when he is next in the chamber I will perhaps update him to that end.

Can I also thank Ms Bath for her adjournment matter in relation to the men’s shed. I thank you for being here to hear the response to your adjournment matter, Ms Bath. It was indeed a wonderful event upstairs and a culmination of the wonderful setting that we have had in Queen’s Hall this week. The items on display really show the breadth of skills and talent that exist in our men’s sheds. As was discussed by me and indeed the shadow minister, the work of men’s sheds is broad. It extends not just to works such as the beautiful wooden items that we have in Queen’s Hall but, as the shadow minister talked about in terms of his own electorate, to a sausage-making men’s shed as well. The contributions of our men’s sheds are truly wonderful. They are amazing. They provide an amazing service for men, ensuring that we provide not only outlets for their mental health and wellbeing but a forum in which they can also contribute to great social objectives. Some of the other ones that I spoke about upstairs I also spoke about in the chamber this morning, such as the Belgrave Men’s Shed and their commitment to protecting local wildlife by making boxes for the birds to be housed in while the forest recovers from storm damage, as well as the one in Tatura and the work that they have done in relation to the installation of some local Indigenous art.

In relation to Traralgon, which the member raised, I will repeat the words that I said upstairs, which were that among the many projects we have recently supported – and I listed a couple of others – is a new shed in Traralgon after theirs was flooded in 2021. We were certainly very pleased to support this project through the 2022–23 grants round. My advice is that this application saw $80,000 towards a $120,000 fit-out of a new men’s shed to be constructed by the council and that the new facility will replace the existing Traralgon Men’s Shed facility, which was heavily impacted by flooding in June 2021 and can no longer be insured against damage caused by flooding. If the information has not been effectively communicated to Traralgon, we are more than happy to ensure that that explanation, as you have requested, is provided, and I can also point you to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing website, where that information is included.

On the other matters that have been raised, Mr McIntosh raised a matter for the Minister for Early Childhood and Pre-Prep, Ms Hermans raised a matter for the Minister for WorkSafe and the TAC, Mr Limbrick raised a matter for the Attorney-General, Mr Galea raised a matter for the Minister for Employment, Ms Payne raised a matter for the Minister for Police, Mr Berger raised a matter for the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Ms Lovell raised a matter for the Treasurer, Mr Puglielli raised a matter for the Premier, Ms Ratnam raised a matter for the Minister for Planning, Mr Davis raised a matter for the Minister for Creative Industries, Ms Heath raised a matter for the Minister for Health, Mrs McArthur raised a matter for the minister for transport and Mr Mulholland raised a matter for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, and I will pass all those matters on.

The PRESIDENT: The house stands adjourned.

House adjourned 6:21 pm.