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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 508 ..

lessened to a degree and in some cultures shared extended family care is a traditional parenting practice.

Where kinship care is not available or not in the best interests of the child or young person, foster carers are sought to provide support and care to these children and young people. Foster carers take these children into their own families and offer—with somewhat limited support from government—care, accommodation and security to children very much in need. I would like to recognise these carer groups, such as the Foster Carers Association, for their ongoing commitment to our children.

Kinship carers and foster carers perform what from the outside would seem to be a similar role. However, the supports and training provided to these two groups are different. I have had it reported to me that the supports provided to kinship carers can be less than those provided to foster carer families. We have recently had a change in the balance where we have more kinship carers now in the ACT than foster carers. We really do need to address the sorts of supports and training issues that need to be provided to these kinship carers. We need to ensure that the system supports both foster and kinship carers.

Acting on these reports, I asked the Minister for Children and Young People about the status of the ALP election commitments to the $800,000 funding for grandparent support services, including kinship carers. In response, the minister outlined a series of programs and supports which would be funded from this money, including a position to provide support and advocacy to kinship carers, grandparents and foster carers, recurrent funding to a kinship carers advocacy group, funding to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific organisation to provide support to kinship and grandparent carers, and support to Marymead’s grandparent support program.

The minister advised that the procurement process for these services was due to be finalised in early 2010. I look forward to further advice and information from the minister on the progress of this funding. Late last year, I also asked the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services for an update on the $800,000 commitment for a proposed carers advocacy service. In a response to my letter, the minister advised that the proposed service would be established during the current term of government. I look forward to further updates on the progress of this service and hope that it can be established sooner rather than later.

The ACT Greens recognise the importance of carers in our community. Again, I thank Ms Porter for bringing forward this matter of public importance.

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Women) (3.44): I thank Ms Porter for bringing this matter into the Assembly. Indeed, I think we all agree that carers across our community play a very valued and honoured role. The ACT government is committed to recognising and supporting carers in the territory. According to the ABS 2006 census, there are over 25,000 carers in the ACT. Carers cover all age groups and relationships. A carer can be, as Ms Hunter pointed out, a young person, a parent, a partner, a relative, a friend or an acquaintance. Every day, carers provide many hours of care for individuals in our community.

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