Media Releases

Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons

Pressure is growing on Human Services Minister with new data confirming the enormous stress on the Child Protection system.

Shadow Minister Rebecca White said Jacquie Petrusma is failing staff who are trying to protect Tasmania’s most vulnerable young people.

“Child Protection workers are dealing with as many as 24 individual cases at a time as they try desperately to keep kids safe,” Ms White said.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White has marked Mental Health Week by launching a youth mental health policy.

14% of Australians experience mental health issues at some stage during adolescence, which is equivalent to 16,850 young people in Tasmania.

“It is widely acknowledged that early intervention and prevention during childhood and adolescence is the most effective way to address mental health issues,” Ms White said.

The Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding needs to immediately announce what the future holds for the Triabunna wharf.

“We are told via a TasPorts spokesman an announcement could be made this week but the Government is still saying nothing,” Ms White said.

“Surely, Rene Hidding knows what’s going on and he should stop stalling and tell Tasmanians.

“The Liberals have caused great uncertainty by not consulting with the community and undermining Graeme Wood’s significant tourism venture.

Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma has been caught out manipulating child protection statistics to suit the Liberals’ political needs.

Last month in the midst of the ignored child protection notifications crisis, the Minister claimed caseloads on the North West Coast were lower than in other regions, now she is trying the same trick when discussing the North.


“I am advised there are more staff and fewer cases allocated per worker in the North-West than other regions,” (Jacquie Petrusma, 17th August 2015)


“The particular claims they make today are again wrong - in fact, the caseload in the North is the lowest in the state, at an average of 12 cases per worker.” (Jacquie Petrusma, 29th September 2015)


Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said Ms Petrusma should stop treating child protection staff with contempt.

A Right To Information request by the Labor Opposition has revealed an alarming number of elective surgeries continue to be cancelled.

Tasmanian hospitals were forced to cancel 3061 surgeries in the year ending June 2015.

In the North West, 645 surgeries were cancelled at the Mersey and North West Regional hospitals.

1087 surgeries were cancelled over 12 months at the Launceston General Hospital.

While at the Royal Hobart Hospital, 1329 surgeries were cancelled.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said cancelled surgeries remain a serious problem across our hospitals.

Today the Minister for Human Services confirmed that the Hodgman Liberal Government will be privatising public housing.

Shadow Minister Rebecca White said it’s in stark contrast to the Liberals’ promise before the election to not privatise public assets.

“Labor does not support the privatisation of public housing,” Ms White said.

Labor Leader Bryan Green said the handling of the child protection crisis has set a dangerous precedent for ministerial responsibility.

“The Premier has today endorsed the way a genuine crisis in child protection was kept from the Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma,” Mr Green said.

“The Premier is basically saying that crucial information can come into a ministerial office and not be passed on to the Minister.

“This sets a dangerous precedent where staff may choose to deliberately withhold information from the Minister and no one will be held accountable for it.

State Labor today questioned the curious timing around when the 151 child protection notifications ignored on the North-West Coast were made public.

“No action was taken on almost 90 family violence notifications and the Government has not adequately explained why it was not revealed when it first knew of it,” Ms White said.

“Was there a deliberate decision made not to inform the public of the crisis because it would have spoilt the Premier’s announcement on the Government’s response to family violence in the very same week?

More than a year after Health Minister Michael Ferguson announced a $23.4 million increase to elective surgery spending, the panel to administer the funding hasn’t even been finalised.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said it’s an embarrassing confession from the Government.

“Right To Information documents confirm the panel that’s supposed to implement the elective surgery spend hasn’t been selected yet,” Ms White said.

Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma has failed to take responsibility for her own failings throughout the child protection crisis on the North West Coast.
The North West Child Protection Services Report only goes part of the way to explaining why 151 babies and children were potentially put at harm.
Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said many questions remain unanswered.

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