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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 3 June 2021) . . Page.. 1740 ..


the children and young people in their care. I know that they make a difference in the lives of these kids and I love that they are eager to make an even bigger difference. I respect their initiative, which inspired this motion today. I also express my gratitude to the vibrant community services sector. As happens so often in the sector, Anglicare Victoria saw a need, innovated a solution, piloted it, refined it and, in the process, helped to improve the lives of hundreds of vulnerable kids in care. Their success highlights the essential role performed by community services providers here in Canberra and across Australia.

Finally, I want to publicly address the children and young people in the territory’s residential care homes and youth detention centre. To these kids, I say: I believe in you, I value you and I have great hopes for your future.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (4.17): I start by thanking Mrs Kikkert for bringing this motion today, and I move the amendment circulated in my name:

Omit paragraph (3) (a) and substitute:

“(3) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) explore ways to improve the support available to staff in residential care homes and Bimberi Youth Justice Centre, including through training and development opportunities, to increase their confidence and ability to mentor and tutor residents in literacy and numeracy and to contribute towards building rich learning environments;”

This is a pretty minor amendment, and Mrs Kikkert will probably ask why I am moving this amendment, which is just a bit of a refinement on what the government is called on to do. The reason is around the different situations that children and young people in residential care in particular find themselves in and the very specific nature of the (3)(a) in Mrs Kikkert’s motion that would require ensuring staff receive training specifically designed with a focus on ability to mentor and tutor students in residents in literacy and numeracy.

We do not have any issue with the fact that literacy and numeracy are important and training and supporting staff are also important, and that is reflected in the amendment. But we can foresee a series of questions being asked down the track on whether every single person has been trained in this particular thing for this particular purpose when, in fact, the role of youth workers is quite varied. The very important and critical role that they play will mean that some of them absolutely will need and should get this training and support—and some of them do through our community partners—but for others it will not necessarily be the most appropriate thing. Some individual children and young people need to be focusing on just engaging in a school environment or being able to engage in their education journey rather than on literacy and numeracy.

The amendment broadens the call on the government to explore ways to continue to improve support available to staff in residential care homes and in Bimberi, including through training and development options, to increase their confidence and ability to


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