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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 May 2021) . . Page.. 1291 ..

who is there for us on a daily basis. Imagine if we did not have that; how devastating that would be. Many kids in out of home care do not have a home to go to, and they deserve to have every opportunity in life that others do. Rather than abandoning them at 18 years of age, let us walk with them a little bit longer and give them more love, more support and more compassion.

I wish to speak to the amendments to this motion tabled by Minister Stephen-Smith and raise some points of concern. The first amendment is certainly a move in the right direction. Under the current policy the continuing care subsidy is only available to foster and kinship carers who wish to continue providing homes to the young people they have been raising. Making this very small payment available to those exiting residential care, and those unable to remain in foster or kinship care, is something that I welcome. That is why I moved the amendment to that amendment. From what I have heard, that continuing care subsidy is less than what the foster carers and kinship carers were receiving before the child turned 18 years old. The amount of money drastically drops. I want the government to understand that the foster carers and kinship carers are quite aware of this and they want to see the government consider an increase in the amount of the money that they receive when the child turns 18.

I also want to speak to her point about data collecting. It felt as if she was making fun of me for asking the government about data collection. I just want to point out that when a child feels comfortable and loved at home, after they turn 18 they are welcome to return home by their choice. They are welcome to go home because they know they feel safe and loved there and because they were respected and honoured when they left home. Likewise, legally the government is the parent of kids in out of home care under the age of 18 years. If the child does not feel safe and does not feel respected by the government—if the child does not feel like they are being heard by the government—of course they are not going to want to come back to the government when it wishes to collect data. Of course they are not going to listen to what the government asks them to do. Of course they are going to feel, “This is the government forcing me to do something that I do not want.”

However, if the child in out of home care feels that the government is listening to them before they turn 18 and that they are respected, are being treated with honour and given what they need, that child, when they turn 18, will be happy if the government says, “If you find a job please come back and tell us. If you enter CIT, please come back to tell us.” The minister is mocking that remark because she does not know what it feels like. When a child trusts a parent, they will come back and tell them what is happening to them after they leave home. It is similar for a child leaving the out of home care system. They will come back and do a survey if the government treated them with respect and honour when they were in the government’s care. But if the government does not give them the care that they need, of course they will not listen—of course they will not care about any government survey to collect data.

So I urge the minister to change her mindset, to treat the young people in her care with respect and honour, and to hear them out. When you ask those young people—when they leave at the age of 18—to do a survey about how they are doing with their lives, they will happily do that because they know that they have been respected by the government.

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