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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 August 2019) . . Page.. 2604 ..

it as a waiting list is not an accurate description of the way that children and young people experience that support.

MRS KIKKERT: How many of these children are currently in a residential group home?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I believe I just answered that question.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, what is your plan to make sure that the territory has enough foster carers so that children do not have to be kept on waiting lists?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mrs Dunne for the supplementary. I have already noted that there is really not a thing called a waiting list for foster care and we are not seeing young people in residential care because we do not have sufficient foster care placements. We have in fact seen an increase in the number of foster carers.

ACT Together has been very successful in recruiting foster carers, and in the last snapshot report that I tabled in the Assembly earlier this year—April, from my best recollection, was when I tabled it—I think I said, when tabling that report, that we had not seen a single foster carer leave the system over the period of that report, which was to the end of December 2018. Actually ACT Together has had a very good record of both recruiting and retaining foster carers in our system, and I want to put on record the ACT government’s appreciation of the very important work that both foster and kinship carers do.

That is an important point. Many young people who come into care may be in a short-term foster placement while an appropriate kinship care placement is identified. That is our preferred form of support for children and young people so that they remain connected to their family and their community.

All these can be quite complex issues but both foster and kinship carers are the backbone of our out of home care system. They do very important work supporting some of the most vulnerable children and young people in our community, and I am sure that everyone in the Assembly joins me in thanking them very much for that work.

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders—NAIDOC Week

MS CHEYNE: Can the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs update the Assembly on local activities and celebrations held during NAIDOC Week 2019?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Cheyne for the question. NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July, as I am sure everyone here knows, to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year in the ACT, NAIDOC Week was extremely successful with more than 40 NAIDOC events held across the territory

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