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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 2 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 597..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

Review of the safety of children in the care of the ACT and of ACT child protection management-First six month status report, dated February 2005.

The Territory's Children-Ensuring safety and quality care for children and young people-Report on the audit and case review-First six month status report, dated February 2005.

I seek leave to make a statement in relation to the papers.

Leave granted.

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Speaker, I am pleased to table the first six-month progress reports on the implementation of the agreed recommendations of the reports into child safety and protection in the ACT-The territory as parent and The territory's children. Members will recall that in May 2004, the government released The territory as parent, the report of the Commissioner for Public Administration, Cheryl Vardon. We also released the government's response to the recommendations in this report.

The commissioner found that the ACT required a new vision for the most vulnerable children and young people in the community. The commissioner said this required a new system, new practices and the building of quality relationships. The commissioner also recommended a new oversight agency, a children's commissioner, to be the voice for children and young people in the ACT.

Subsequently, in August 2004, I tabled The territory's children, known as the Murray report, as well as the government's response. The Murray report involved an audit of files of 150 children and young people who had been in the care of the territory. The report provided detailed information about those children and young people, and the circumstances of their families and carers. Both reports show the overrepresentation of children and young people in care from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families or parents with dependencies.

On the same day, in my ministerial statement on the Vardon report implementation strategy, I announced that the government would release progress reports every six months on the implementation of the agreed recommendations of the report. We have embarked on a far-reaching and complex task, and we are meeting our responsibilities. Working with the community sector, we are committed to delivering a quality protection system for children and young people in care in the ACT. This commitment is consistent with the strategies expressed in the Canberra plan, the social plan, the children's plan and the young people's plan.

Today, I can report encouraging progress in the implementation of both the Vardon and the Murray reports. The initial actions we have taken reflect the partnership approach between the government and non-government sectors that underpins the child protection reform process. To deliver meaningful reform, we established a dedicated Office for Children, Youth and Family Support, with an operational budget of $59.5 million in 2005. Moreover, the office is now under the umbrella of the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services-a step that will further strengthen partnerships between government and non-government human services organisations.


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