Jacquie Petrusma accused of misleading Parliament over Safe Pathways

Jacquie Petrusma MP

Jacquie Petrusma MP

Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma is again under fire, after allegations were aired on Monday that she misled Parliament in the wake of the Safe Pathways saga.

On Tuesday, acting Human Services Minister Rene Hidding said information on children in the care of Safe Pathways provided to Parliament by the minister was accurate, but Opposition child protection spokesman Josh Willie called for Ms Petrusma to “explain herself”. 

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In November last year, allegations came to light that Tasmanian children in the care of the for-profit provider were experiencing neglect.

On November 15, Ms Petrusma answered queries relating to Safe Pathways during Question Time.

“I have requested the department to ensure each child is visited by their child safety officer to assess their well-being, and if there is any indication of inappropriate care being provided to the child, that child will be removed,” she told Parliament. 

The next day, she told Parliament “I have been assured by the acting deputy secretary that every one of these 11 young people has been contacted by Child Safety Services”. 

But, as reported in emails obtained by the ABC, the Health and Human Services Department reportedly informed Ms Petrusma on November 16 that the department had not yet been able to contact some of the children in care. 

Ms Petrusma is currently on leave, but Mr Hidding said his colleague was “completely accurate”. 

“I have today [Tuesday] contacted the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services who has confirmed that the minister’s office [was] provided with clear advice that all the children in the care of Safe Pathways were safe, prior to the minister advising Parliament,” he said. 

“The department provided the advice to the minister before she went into Parliament … she was provided with advice that the kids were safe, she went in and said that.

“The minister was accurate and there really is nothing else to say.” 

Mr Willie called for Ms Petrusma’s resignation. 

“Ministers need to be responsible for their portfolio areas to ensure that they’re keeping Tasmanians informed,” he said. 

“This has been dysfunctional for some time and I’m calling upon the Human Services Minister to come back today and explain herself.

“All each of us want is a child protection system that keeps kids safe.” 

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