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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 3733..

MR WOOD (continuing):

for early intervention and prevention and different accommodation and support options. They speak of the need for creating alternative pathways for homeless young people.

The Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services has worked closely with the Youth Coalition throughout the review. The coalition was invited to comment on the terms of reference. It assisted by identifying young people to attend hearings, and they were approached by Mr MacKenzie to provide their perspective on youth homelessness.

When the draft report was received, in consultation with the sector, it was decided to further test the report's recommendations. The Youth Coalition has been engaged to undertake additional consultation with stakeholders to test the MacKenzie report's recommendations with the people it would directly affect: the youth of Canberra. This important work is under way and is scheduled for completion in early September 2004.

Consistent with article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child-that is, on a young person's right to express their views on matters affecting them-we have ensured that young people have been engaged to determine young homeless people's responses to the model proposed by MacKenzie. Young people have been trained to undertake additional research into the number of young people sleeping rough, the consequent demand for overnight crisis responses and recommendations for the most appropriate professional service responses to the needs of young people.

Over 50 young people have been consulted already, and two forums have been held with other stakeholders. Twenty-six different service providers have participated in these workshops, including the Ted Noffs Foundation and Quamby. This innovative work-young people consulting with young people-will continue the best practice in consultation established in the development of the homelessness strategy. It will ensure that the way forward will be informed and owned by the community and young people.

In addition to developing service responses, the department has been working closely with all stakeholders to improve outcomes for young people who experience homelessness. This includes conducting six-weekly forums with youth SAAP services to develop better responses to young people with complex needs.

We have worked with other government agencies: the Turnaround program, the Child and Adolescent Mental Heath Service and the Office of the Community Advocate. Other community service providers, including Marlow Cottage, Youth in the City, CEAS and Open Family, have also been engaged. The result is government and community services working together more effectively. SAAP services, with the support of the department, have extended accommodation periods for young people with complex needs, recognising that ongoing support improves the chance of a sustained outcome.

A work plan has been developed for the Office for Children, Youth and Family Support, which outlines the range of actions that will improve the interface between youth SAAP services and child protection agencies. This work predates the Vardon report and provides practical action to enhance collaboration, such as the provision of joint training and protocols among stakeholders.

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