Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2773 ..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
The ACT is the third highest in the provision of financial support to foster carers compared to other areas. I will ask the department to have a look at payments to foster carers. In fact, the department had already set up a review group to look at that in relation to the work that had come out of Costs of caring. A range of issues was tied up in that, which would take some time.
What I requested from the department was advice about whether we were able to give extra financial support for foster carers and whether we were able to do that separately from looking at other issues that are more long term. From memory, the advice I got back was that it would have to be considered in the next budget because of the potential money involved. I'll get back to you on where that is at as well because I cannot remember that advice that I got specifically on payments.
In relation to some other things that are happening, the ACT government is leading the agenda for a national plan for foster children. Minister Wood recently attended a meeting in Perth, where a presentation was given to all community and disability services ministers on the work that the ACT has done, looking at it with a national approach. At that time there was agreement from ministers that the plan should be expanded to look not only at the care for children and young people but also at the best ways of supporting relatives and carers, including grandparents. It has been led by the ACT, but a lot of the work coming out of that is looking at research about how best to support all elements of an out-of-home caring relationship.
Tomorrow I am meeting with CREATE, the advocacy organisation, to talk about some of the issues they have. I am sure that this matter will be raised there as well, and I will listen to what they say. I have provided them with some information in terms of the report card they issue about what states are doing to support children and young people in out-of-home care arrangements.
Quite a lot is being done. I will get back to you on the specifics. The work foster carers do is very important. It is by no means an easy job, and it is valued by the government. If the carers feel that it is not being valued, I am happy to meet with them again and progress it.
MS TUCKER: Could you also tell the Assembly why standard CPI increases have not been granted to foster carers?
MS GALLAGHER: My understanding is that they are getting the CPI. They got the 1 per cent when other non-government agencies did not get the full CPI. The budget decision for community organisations funded by Education was that Education funded indexation at 1 per cent. It was for one year only. That was my understanding. At all other times, and certainly this year, they are being funded at CPI.
MRS DUNNE: My question is to Ms Gallagher, the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services. Minister, would you outline what actions your department took on Friday 17 January 2003 and on the morning of 18 January 2003 to prepare for the bushfires?