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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 6 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1749..

The other concern that I know people from Woden will have is about what happens to the learning campus and the learning site for CIT in Woden. That will be considered. I think that if you look between Woden, Weston and Molonglo, there is a need to have a learning campus around. I look to Gungahlin, which has a very modern learning centre attached to the college up there. That is a model we could explore.

Children and young people—out-of-home care

DR BOURKE: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People. Minister, could you tell the Assembly how the budget is investing in out-of-home care in the ACT and how this additional investment will help reduce the number of children coming into care in the ACT?

MS BURCH: I thank Dr Bourke for the question. The government is committed to investing in out-of-home care services across the ACT. I am pleased that in this budget we have included $4.1 million to support children and young people in out-of-home care. The budget will fund the ongoing increase in demand for out-of-home care services and lay the groundwork for the implementation of the out-of-home care strategy 2015-2020, an innovative approach to the government's support for children, carers and service providers.

Among the initiatives funded is a piloting of therapeutic assessments and planning for children and young people in care; training for foster and kinship carers, service providers, and care and protection staff to support the implementation of a therapeutic, trauma-informed care system; and establishing an accreditation and monitoring system for out-of-home care. These initiatives represent the first deliverable of the government's new direction for out-of-home care in the ACT.

I am pleased to see that the initiatives have been welcomed by the community. Rebecca Vassarotti from ACTCOSS, for example, said that she was, "pleased to see additional funding for out-of-home care and increases in concessions for low-income households and investment in mental health and suicide prevention".

Christina Ryan from Advocacy for Inclusion said that the new out-of-home care strategy was "very welcome". The out-of-home care strategy aims to avert any future crisis in out-of-home care service provision in the ACT. If we do not act now, in 10 years time we will have more than 1,000 children and young people in out-of-home care in the ACT.

This is not unique to the ACT. All Australian jurisdictions are experiencing growth in care numbers and all are experiencing difficulties in attracting and retaining carers. The out-of-home care strategy, with its additional funding, will help divert children from entering care by supporting parents to safely care for children at risk and by providing greater support for families.

It will deliver improved outcomes for children and young people who cannot live with their families, including finding alternative permanent placements wherever possible. It will improve the operation of the out-of-home care system to ensure that the services which are delivered meet the needs of the children and families.

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