Page 3309 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 October 2022

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If there are people out there that are looking for a response from government, I would certainly encourage them to get in contact with my office if they would like to.

Children and young people—Next Steps for Our Kids strategy

MS ORR: My question is to the Minister for Families and Community Services. Minister, in June the ACT government released Next Steps for our Kids 2022-2030: ACT Strategy to Strengthen Families and Keep Children and Young People Safe. Can you please explain how this strategy was developed and will be implemented in partnership with the community sector.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Orr for the question and for her ongoing interest in this important matter.

I will go back to 29 March 2021 when I hosted a child and family services reform forum engaging a broad group of stakeholders for a day of discussion and workshops. The purpose of the forum was to consider the needs of children and families in the ACT, areas of reform that were currently underway and how to engage stakeholders in the ongoing planning and implementation of reform across child and family services. I would not say it was the start of it, but it really kick-started the conversation about the Next Steps strategy and some related pieces of work. It was followed by deep iterative engagement with our critical sector partners to develop the Next Steps strategy. The strategy acknowledges explicitly that partnerships between government and the community sector are key to achieving better outcomes for children, young people and their families when they are experiencing risk or vulnerability.

Partnering with the community is one of the six domains of the strategy. The domain outlines initiatives that will strengthen our partnerships with the non-government sector from the implementation of reforms through to how we work together to deliver services. This includes the formation of a ministerial council, or a similar kind of mechanism, to share responsibility for implementation and accountability of reform between government and the sector through the commissioning process delivering new funding models that allow flexibility so that services can better meet the needs of children and young people and be genuinely focussed on outcomes, and the development of common tools and assessment frameworks which can help achieve better and more consistent decision making, both within CYPS but also that common understanding with sector partners.

MS ORR: Minister, what do you hope this strategy will achieve for a child who is experiencing risk.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Orr for the supplementary question. We are continuing to work closely with the sector on the development of the Next Steps strategy and the four year action plan, which represent a real opportunity to accelerate our efforts towards building a truly restorative child protection and family support system, with early support and the voices of children and young people, their families and carers embedded in the way the system is structured and the way it operates. It is also an opportunity to activate the broader community in support of vulnerable

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