Page 3285 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 October 2022
The Labor-Greens government has formally stated that it is supportive of this recommendation but the steering committee has not been impressed:
The Steering Committee is frustrated by the lack of responsiveness for these specific legal representation and advocacy services, despite stated ministerial level support.
The steering committee likewise have stated that they lack confidence that the Justice and Community Services Directorate understands the specific needs of the community for this recommendation. Earlier this week I pointed out that the Our Booris, Our Way Implementation Oversight Committee, which replaced the steering committee, recently publicly expressed their frustration that, three years after the final report, only one of 28 recommendations has been fully implemented. That includes recommendation 8(b).
I stand today to once again call on Labor and the Greens to provide Legal Aid ACT, and other such organisations, with the resourcing they need to be able to assist Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders and other vulnerable Canberra families with the legal representation and advocacy that they need to navigate this territory’s unnecessarily impenetrable child protection system and its youth justice system.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (11.11): I rise to advise Mrs Kikkert that this budget does in fact explicitly include funding for the Aboriginal Legal Service to establish a service to support families engaged with child and youth protection services. Obviously, if she cares enough about this matter, she is going to stay and hear a response specifically to her comments on this budget.
Not only does this budget specifically include exactly what she was just calling for, but I can also advise the chamber, in Mrs Kikkert’s absence, that last month we had a final roundtable with stakeholders in relation to the establishment of an external merits review process for child and youth protection. It is something that I have acknowledged a number of times has taken longer than we had hoped. But we are ensuring, through this process, that we develop a best practice model for external merits review in child and youth protection. It is a complex space. What we have heard from other jurisdictions is that their model of simply using their equivalent of ACAT, their tribunal processes, is not ideal. We want to ensure that we establish an integrated internal review process and external merits review process.
It was a very productive roundtable on 16 September, with a range of stakeholders, including Legal Aid ACT, the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Human Rights Commission. It was co-convened by the Human Rights Commission, with the Children and Young People Commissioner and Public Advocate. There were members of the Restorative Community Network and a number of other stakeholders in that meeting to talk through the work that has been undertaken by a consortium of consultants, including Curijo, who are working to develop an ACT-specific model.
In relation to the legal system and child and youth protection services more broadly, Mrs Kikkert, you would expect, would also be aware that we have funded, through