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Minister promises Christmas party and presents for children in care
21/10/1999 4:37 PM
Family and Children’s Services Minister Rhonda Parker said in Parliament today that no child in care of the State would miss out on a Christmas present this year - and that they were never going to.
The Minister said most children in care would receive a Christmas present from their natural parents and carers, which was appropriate.
“If any child does not receive a gift from either a parent or a carer, Family and Children’s Services will ensure that they receive a gift from the Department,” Mrs Parker said.
Family and Children’s Services Opposition spokesperson Alan Carpenter had incorrectly claimed in Parliament yesterday that Christmas presents to children under the care of the Department had been abolished as a cost saving measure.
Mrs Parker told Parliament that they had witnessed Alan Carpenter at his worst.
“If he was genuinely interested in the issue he would have given me some notice of the question yesterday,” she said.
“He wasn’t interested in the information, he wasn’t interested in the 1200 children in care of the State, he was only interested in a quick television headline.”
The Minister said that it was cynical politics.
“Since his question yesterday, I have made inquiries with the department on what the situation was in offices around the State.
“The fact is that there has never been a policy for the department to give Christmas presents to wards of the State.
“There also hasn’t been a usual practice in the department of providing up to $50 of the cost of Christmas presents for each ward of the State, as the Member for Willagee incorrectly claimed in Parliament yesterday.
“In practise, all the different areas in the department had a different approach to Christmas presents for children in care.
“Some gave no gifts, some gave a present to only a few after considering specific requests by carers on a case by case basis, or if the carer or natural parent wasn’t able to provide a gift.
“Some had a small party with a small gift and I am advised that only two out of the nine zones gave a small $5 - $10 gift to each child in care.
“The reason the department had a look at the practice in its different zone offices was to develop a consistent approach to ensure that every one of the 1200 children in care of the State will have a Christmas present this year and in future years.
“This is not a cost saving measure, it is a measure to ensure that no child misses out.”
Mrs Parker said that Christmas is a very special time and that the department would make sure that all children in care can share in the spirit of Christmas.
The Minister again dismissed claims by the Opposition of spending cuts in the area as ridiculous, since the budget allocation for this area had increased from around $4.7 million a year to around $8.5 million over the last six years.
Media contact: Owen Cole 9481 7810