Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 March 2010) . . Page.. 1279 ..
and efficiencies, if they are possible between the two hospitals, even if they remain under two different providers. Little Company of Mary Health Care have indicated at this point in time that they are prepared to examine improvements to the service level agreement around those areas.
Indigenous young people
MS HUNTER: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People, and it concerns Indigenous young people involved in the criminal justice system. Minister, during annual reports hearings last year, the department noted that the ACT, like other jurisdictions, has significant over-representation when it comes to Indigenous people in custody. Of the 11 young people in custody today, five of them are identified as Indigenous. This is supported by the ACT criminal justice December 2009 quarter statistical profile. Minister, what programs are running across the ACT government to divert and support Indigenous young people from the criminal justice system and how is the progress or success of these programs being monitored?
MS BURCH: I thank Ms Hunter for her question. It is a recognised fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are, indeed, over-represented in justice systems, and that is something that this government is working to address by looking at early intervention and education and a range of other programs. This government is committed to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people and their families in an area of my responsibilities. The west Belconnen child and family centre, which is under construction, is that very early intervention and support to families.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services is a discrete and stand-alone directorate in my department, and it has a focus on Aboriginal policy and also works with our elected councils. But, broadly across the department, support to Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders is a focus. There are targeted and integrated family support services. There are foster care services and supported accommodation facilities for vulnerable young men.
The department also operates and funds other programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. These are early intervention and community development programs delivered, as I said, through the child and family centres, housing and housing support programs, and community family-based support programs delivered by community partners.
There are complex factors that lead to the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and it is something on which we work with the community sector and the Aboriginal community itself, to see how we can best do this. I go back to the west Belconnen child and family centre, where the reference group that is looking at the programs that are being developed and planned there have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation. So we are connected from the outset and align the community services and our services to the best needs to meet those communities.
We have a range of measures in place across government with health, education, housing and family support doing work to address the circumstances that Aboriginal