Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Nick Goiran, has called on the McGowan Government to treat the insurance crisis for children in the care of the State as its highest priority and resolve it within the next few days before the crisis turns into a catastrophe.
The crisis has been brewing for some time since the availability of liability insurance coverage for out-of-home care providers was withdrawn by private insurers.
In response to recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, all states and territories abolished limitation periods for child sexual abuse claims.
This triggered an insurance market collapse and insurance providers no longer provide insurance to foster and residential home care which leaves organisations tasked with the important work of caring for children, highly exposed and uncertain.
Questions asked by Mr Goiran in Parliament were initially directed to the Premier in his capacity as Treasurer and revealed that the government had approved the provision of “temporary indemnities” for a period of 12 months from November 2021 until November 2022.
The temporary indemnity applies to claims of alleged incidents of physical and sexual abuse against children for non-government organisations contracted by the Department of Communities to provide out-of-home care and youth homelessness accommodation services in Western Australia.
Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Nick Goiran, blasted the Premier for his attitude of indifference to this crisis as well as the Minister for Child Protection who appeared unable to respond to the simplest of questions about this urgent issue.
“To the Government’s credit that made a decision last year to address this crisis and bridge the gap for 12 months. Yet, this was no issue that should have been placed on ‘set and forget mode’.
“Last month, the Premier seemed agitated by my ongoing questions and directed that my further queries be sent to his Community Services Minister Simone McGurk. This month, she told me she needed more time to answer.
“Why can’t the Premier or Minister tell us who made the decision last year, when they were informed of the decision, which non-government organisations are covered and provide us with their most recent briefing note about this crisis?
“Our vulnerable children and the sector caring for them are out of time – they urgently need certainty and a plan. All other states in Australia have extended the insurance indemnity coverage until the end of 2023.
“This is no time for the McGowan Government to fall back into its pattern of behaviour of secrecy and unaccountability.
“This once again highlights the wrong priorities of the McGowan Government who this month have been more concerned about obsessively clinging to emergency powers than providing clarity and a plan for the most vulnerable in our State,” said Mr Goiran.