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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (12 March) . . Page.. 934..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

children in care. I understand a meeting has been arranged between the corporation and family services to discuss the process of selecting another service.

The Review of Indigenous Foster Care report has been completed by Dr Ross Gurney. That report will decide-or put in place a process for it-how the tendering of that service should be implemented. There will be a tender process. It is my understanding that there is a level of interest among members of the indigenous community in participating in that. So it is proper for that to be an open process-and that is going to be the case.

As to the children who will be affected by the withdrawal of Open Family, Marymead and Barnardos have, in the short term, taken over management of the care of the children. However, there has been no change to the arrangements with the foster families. The children will remain in their present situations-it is just that the management of that is with Marymead and Barnardos. That is just in the short term, whilst a tender process is put in place to decide on a specific indigenous organisation to provide that service to the children.

MS TUCKER: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question with regard to the indigenous unit in family services which, I understand, is supposed to support this service, if funded-although I know it is not in the business plan. Could you explain whether or not this unit exists? If it does exist, for how long has it existed-and what capacity does it have to support a provider in this area?

MS GALLAGHER: Support for Aboriginal children and young people is certainly a key priority for the entire Department of Education, Youth and Family Services. I am advised that, in relation to family services, there is not a stand-alone unit there at the moment. There is a recommendation in the Review of Indigenous Foster Care report that a new service be set up within family services to provide that support to indigenous children and young people who are in the care of the chief executive.

A new model is to be implemented, which will have a much higher level of support than the current unit, which is a stand-alone unit. Workers will have the support of the operations manager, senior practitioners and a senior indigenous worker. The senior indigenous worker will be part of the child protection management team. This will provide a higher profile for indigenous issues. Opportunities will be created for linkage of indigenous staff across the agencies-across Education and youth services.

Family services have also changed the roles in indigenous job descriptions to have a greater focus on family support-rather than statutory responsibility. I have been advised that selection processes for workers are currently being finalised.

In conclusion, Ms Tucker, I think we have opened up a good, constructive dialogue in relation to family services and some issues. I would be happy to hear your views on how you see the indigenous unit working to support those families.

Youth legal service

MS DUNDAS: My question is for the Attorney-General. Minister, you may be aware that a youth legal service-supported jointly by Clayton Utz, the ANU law society and


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