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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (3 August) . . Page.. 3339..

Child protection

Paper and statement by minister

MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (3.39): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

The Territory as Parent-Review of the Safety of Children in the Care of the ACT and of ACT Child Protection Management-Audit and Case Review Report-Implementation Strategy, dated August 2004.

I ask for leave to make a statement.

Leave granted

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Speaker, I'm pleased to table the implementation strategy of The territory as parent: review of the safety of children in care in the ACT and of ACT child protection management. On 22 June 2004, the Chief Minister tabled in the Assembly the report of the Commissioner for Public Administration, Cheryl Vardon, into The territory as parent: review of the safety of children in care in the ACT and of ACT child protection management and the government response.

The government has committed to working to put in place a new way forward for delivering a high-quality child protection system for children and young people in the ACT. The government has acted to implement its response to the Vardon report by: putting immediately in place the Office for Children, Youth and Family Support, aligned with the Chief Minister's Department; commencing recruiting for more care and protection staff; establishing an implementation team led by the chief executive, Chief Minister's Department, and a small unit to assist in fast-tracking the reform process; and allocating an additional $6 million to the Office for Children, Youth and Family Support in 2004-05, with an extra $68 million committed to child protection over the next four years. These initiatives are part of an overall strategy that is designed to introduce a new culture for the care and support of children, young people and their families in the ACT.

Mr Speaker, the measures introduced by the government have started to have effect. The Community Advocate has recently notified members that there is now compliance with section 162(2) of the Children and Young People Act 1999. This shows that the government is heading in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

To help the government deliver an effective response to the Vardon report recommendations, reference groups were established. Membership of these groups was drawn from government and community based organisations such as Barnardos, Marymead, the Foster Care Association of the ACT, CREATE Foundation and the Youth Coalition of the ACT. These community organisations provide an integral role in developing care and support for children and young people in the ACT and their families. They will continue to play an important role in delivering the high-quality services and programs that will be introduced by the government.

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