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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . .

Page.. 166..


MADAM SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Mr Hanson?

MR HANSON: I do have a supplementary question, and it is: have all contractors who have worked at the Ngunnawal bush healing farm been advised of the presence of asbestos?

MR CORBELL: My understanding is that all people who are engaged or who are proposed to be engaged at the site will be appropriately informed of all relevant occupational health and safety matters at the site, including matters relating to asbestos.

Children and young people—out of home care

MS PORTER: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People. Minister, you have recently launched a new out of home care strategy called "A step up for our kids". Why is this new approach necessary and what does the strategy propose?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Ms Porter for her question and her interest. Whilst I will go into the detail in the answer, I want to put forward the amount of work that Minister Burch did on this project before I was able to take responsibility. For most of us, Canberra is a great place to live in. It is a city full of brilliant possibilities waiting to be realised. But not everybody is able to make the most of these opportunities. Some children and young people face challenges many of us cannot even start to imagine.

As is the case nationally, the ACT community is facing a significant number of challenges when it comes to providing out of home care services. These include an increasing number of children and young people entering care. On average, the number of children and young people in care has increased by around five per cent per year over the last decade, with no evidence to indicate that this pattern will moderate without significant intervention. Of particular concern is the significant over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in care, which currently stands at around one-quarter of all children in the ACT care system.

In the ACT, like other jurisdictions, we struggle to gain and retain adequate numbers of suitable carers, leading to difficulty in matching children and young people with the right care in the right home. More than half the children and young people in care reside with kinship carers. In the ACT this is preferred. However, the ageing profile of kinship carers means that nearly 60 per cent are aged over 50. We need to create a more financially sustainable system. Across Australia the growth in the numbers of children and young people entering care is mirrored by a disproportionate growth in out of home care and child protection services.

Finally, outcomes for children and young people who have been in care are generally poorer than for the broader community, whether socially, in education attainment or in employment participation. We know that adults who exit the care system are much less likely to be employed and are at greater risk of mental illness, drug and alcohol


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