I'm thrilled to have joined you here at the Department as the new Secretary
at the beginning of the New Year.
Some of you might know that I've come to this organisation from the
Department of Human Services, where I was Secretary since late 2009. I
enjoyed those five years for the challenge of changing how people think
about socioeconomic disadvantage and the impact human services can have in
I got my start in the community sector, working with children, young people
and families, and moved to government in the early 1990s where I've since
worked across child protection, community services and mental health
programs and briefly at Skills Victoria.
I've spent my entire career working to improve public policy and service
delivery with a view to the people we serve - the children, young people,
adults and households right across Victoria - ultimately being able to live
better lives in safer, brighter communities.
I know well that learning and development are vital to the prosperity,
mobility and cultural wealth of Victoria and to the personal potential of
every Victorian, today and into the future.
The challenges and opportunities within Education - in the face of the
Asian Century, the changing nature of work and the changes underway within
our population, to name only a few - are at once exciting, profound and
It's for these reasons that I am so pleased to have taken up this new role
today. I'm honoured to be here, I'm keen to work alongside you all and I'm
also looking forward to meeting many of you.
A simple Google check however uncovered this story from the ABC News online website from July last year
The public servant responsible for wards of the state breached her duty to care for some of Victoria's most vulnerable children, a court says.
The case of two children sexually abused while in care, revealed by the ABC earlier this month, has triggered calls for the Government to urgently reform the state's child protection system.
The siblings, both aged under 10, were taken from their mother in 2011 after allegations that she physically abused them.
They were placed in separate units, where they were both allegedly raped by older children and witnessed the physical and sexual abuse of others.
In an interim ruling on who should have custody of the children, the court described their case as a "horror story", and said the secretary of the Department of Human Services (DHS), Gill Callister, bore some responsibility for what happened to the siblings.
"It is clear from the terrible things that have happened to [the children] in care that the secretary is in fundamental breach of her duty of care to each of them," the court heard.
The court also noted that it was an offence to take action that resulted in a child in state care suffering harm from physical or sexual abuse, or to fail to take action to prevent the same.
"Proceedings for this offence may only be brought after consultation with the secretary. This probably excludes the secretary as a person who may be charged," the court said.
There is more to this article which can be found easily enough. It exposes deception and incompetence that has proved disasterous for the children involved and disturbing for the general public which places it's faith in its state services.
Meanwhile Back at the ranch
Another busy day preparing iPads for the start of the year and cleaning the toilets. It's very hot here ( 38 degrees at school when I left after watering at 4:00) and a total fire ban day.
I scanned my sketches for The Boundary Rider into my unit plan today.( Below) I have about 2-3 hours more work to finish tomorrow and then I'll just pop up from time to time to water and check that everything's ok until the 27th.
Some more photos from up at work today