Tasmanian government confirms 11 children to be removed from Safe Pathways

Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma said media reporting  had distressed the remaining children under Safe Pathways’ care, prompting a decision for their removal.

Ms Petrusma said on Friday that 11 children in the care of the for-profit provider would be removed, reiterating that they were all safe.

The news followed allegations that some children were being neglected in care.

Ms Petrusma repeatedly said it was the media’s reporting that had caused the children distress when she was asked if there were any other reasons the children were removed. 

“The intense media attention that these children have experienced over the last few weeks has actually caused these children a high level of distress,” she said. 

“The allegations are yet to be substantiated, however, what is causing the distress to the children at this present point in time is the ongoing media attention.” 

The government was already investigating the provider when it was told on Thursday that the children would be removed. 

It was also revealed that anomalies had been found in an interim independent financial audit. 

“[On Thursday] at around 12.45pm my office was informed by my department that they had taken the decision to remove children from the care of Safe Pathways,” Ms Petrusma said. 

“No children will be put in the care of Safe Pathways while the review is undertaken.” 

Opposition Leader Bryan Green said the media were not to blame.

“We’re talking about the welfare of young, vulnerable Tasmanians who are wards of the state and therefore responsibility of the state,” Mr Green said.

Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor called for the contracts to be torn up.

“We are pleased that the 11 children are being removed,” Ms O’Connor said. 

“It’s just unbelievable blame-shifting, buck-passing … the ultimate responsibility for those children, for every child in out-of-home care in Tasmania, is on the Minister’s shoulders.”