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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2278 ..

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, how can you possibly spin this rhetoric when the young people in the Shepherd Centre and Noah’s Ark have been asking for your assistance? Where is the consultation and how will you help young people, as you have just waxed lyrical on?

MS BURCH: This morning I spoke about how the department has had ongoing discussions with the Shepherd Centre and how we discussed with them that the early intervention and education program was not under the national disability agreement. I also spoke this morning and told Mr Doszpot that Disability ACT had advised the Shepherd Centre that they would consider funding for programs that provided family support or respite care. The centre was invited to provide a more detailed request. We are waiting to respond. We are waiting to hear from the Shepherd Centre so that we can respond.

Therapy ACT provides early interventions for children up to eight years where there is a hearing impairment, and we provide a range of services to other organisations in the deaf community.

MR HARGREAVES: A supplementary?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Thanks, Mr Speaker. Minister, in relation to the work that the government has been doing on linking the children’s plan to the young people’s plan, can you please provide the Assembly with some more detail on this?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Hargreaves for his question. The ACT young people’s plan 2009-14 has a close alignment with the ACT children’s plan, in recognition that the needs and interests of children and young people overlap. This will ensure smoother life transitions and more comprehensive links between government and community. Both plans are overseen by a whole-of-government children and young people’s task force. Previously, only the ACT children’s plan was overseen by a government committee, and the creation of a task force is seen as a positive and strategic direction to ensure that all government agencies are prioritising children and young people.

The task force oversees the implementation of both plans and provides strategic leadership and coordination and drives the implementation of both the children’s and young people’s plans. Children and young people have told us that they are concerned about issues such as the environment, safety, the community, health and wellbeing. This emphasises that both children and young people see, hear and feel the same things about our community and the world in which they live.

One of the issues we will address is the area of transitions for those aged 10 to 12. I am pleased to indicate that there are a number of steps already in place, including the youth connections transition program through the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, where vulnerable students in primary school are identified and supported in their first three months of high school. So the alignment of the plans is already having a positive impact on children and young people, and will continue to have a positive impact over the next five years.

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