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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (28 May) . . Page.. 708 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

but now assists with the program. Another male who came through at the same time has also been rehabilitated and is now assisting in the Scout movement. A young male was in the drug scene; he was asked to leave his school; he is now undergoing leadership and skills training and is currently attending another school. Another young male had a drug problem and had committed offences; he is now in the work force. These are just four examples of the program and an insight into the benefits of placing resources and energy into these areas. I commend the children at risk in the ACT report and urge the Government to back its verbal support of the recommendations with action.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (11.58), in reply: Mr Speaker, just to close the debate: I thank members for their comments. It is very heartening to hear some of the success stories which Mr Rugendyke has spoken of. Project Saul, which he mentioned, is an excellent activity run by very dedicated, very talented police officers. I am delighted to hear of those success stories. In fact, I had heard a couple of them before, and a few earlier ones. That is always very heartening. I think I met the young lady who is now in second year at law school, which is absolutely great.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased that the provision of services to children at risk has been given, through the committee's report, debate in this Assembly and the public hearings, the recognition that it deserves. I once again must take the opportunity to thank members of the committee for the work they have put into this report. It will be most helpful to the Government as a tool to help us set our priorities in the area of services to children at risk, and I am sure that Ms Tucker will not easily let us forget that the report is a useful yardstick by which to measure our progress in terms of service provision.

I would like to take the opportunity to reiterate several points I made when tabling the response to this important report. As I announced in that speech, a major task for the department is the development, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders, of a policy on family support. The outcomes of this initiative will be more integrated and accessible services which, in turn, will benefit all children and families in the ACT. In line with the Social Policy Committee's recommendations, research on current best practice is being considered by the working group developing the policy. I seek to reassure Ms Tucker that the dissemination of information within the community will be included as a key strategy in the policy and implementation plan.

The Government continues to be aware of the concerns raised by the committee and will lead the way in providing and funding effective and responsive services to children at risk. One of the ways we are doing this is by focusing our efforts on improved coordination of our services, both government and community based. In line with our commitment to improving coordination of services, the Government is continuing to develop protocols between the key agencies involved in providing services to the children in the at-risk group. These protocols set out the agencies' roles and responsibilities as well as clarifying case management arrangements. Agencies currently involved include Family Services, the disability program, the police, supported accommodation services, schools, preschools and child-care agencies.

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