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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 October 2010) . . Page.. 4741 ..

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), by leave: I thank Ms Hunter for her interest in this matter. I know she has had a long and solid interest in caring for the vulnerable in our community. It is good to see the two parties so committed to getting transitions right for young people in out-of-home care. It is unfortunate that I was not able to thank the opposition, who yesterday attempted to block my statement on transitions for vulnerable young people.

As a minister, I have been very vocal on the issue of getting transitions right for young people right from the get-go. It is one of my priorities and it will remain one of my priorities over the months to come. Earlier this year I said:

… I have a personal interest in doing this to find how the department best works with those quite fragile periods beyond 17, 18 and 19 …

I said that, being a mother of three, I knew that young people did not become instantly wise and mature at 18 and I informed the Assembly that work had already started and I was talking with the department.

At a planning day earlier this year I tasked my department with developing a policy response to the issue, with the aim of developing an improved model. We are doing this in parallel with important national reforms. Work has already commenced, with a senior officer engaged earlier this year to discuss with agencies across government what extra services we could be providing for young people transitioning from care. And on the issue of determination of the age range for eligibility for these services, that will be a key part of the discussion. There will be some budgetary and legislative implications, and therefore we need to consider those as well.

The government discussion paper proposes some very appropriate and particular examples of the types of practical supports that young people may need in their transition. I note that Ms Hunter raised a concern yesterday. The purpose of this paper is not to exclude young people from existing services or from a program response; rather, it is about enhancing and engaging what we already do.

The government is developing an engagement plan to involve young people, carers, stakeholders and the broader community in this important conversation. The aim will be to utilise best practice consultative processes, ensuring the involvement of young people in care, to open up these issues. A practical way that I will be doing that will be by writing to young people, and indeed every carer and stakeholder, inviting them to engage in this discussion and to make written submissions or indeed just to knock on my door and have a conversation.

As Ms Hunter has identified, this is important work. That is why it has been on the backburner for me and in the department for some months. Coincidence and timings work in strange ways, but there could be a quite strong community conversation on this matter. It is a good opportunity for this important piece of work and I am looking forward to it.

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