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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3338 ..

    MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

    funding for a dedicated position within the Domestic Violence Crisis Service for young people who have witnessed or been subjected to domestic violence and/or are using violence in family relationships;

    an extension to the responsibilities of the Official Visitor to make contact with all young people in residential facilities, refuges, detention centres and substitute care;

    a comprehensive, risk-based screening system for persons wishing to work or volunteer to work with children and young people;

    the need for an investigation into the feasibility of a secure residential facility for young people engaging in sexually offending behaviour, by March next year;

    the need to specifically address the needs of homeless young people in the context of the homelessness strategy; and

    the creation of a position of a commissioner for children and young people for the ACT.

It can be seen by this snapshot of a series of recommendations that the areas of concern cross many portfolios. One of the major portfolios is family services. The committee was encouraged by the evidence that there was a desire for change within family services and other agencies. There are signs of an intention to improve record keeping, to effect a change to the turf-war mentality of sharing information, change to the procedures where there is one child-one file system whereby the information on a child's life and care is collected at a single point and shared with other agencies on an inter-agency approach.

However, the committee also noted that in her annual report the Community Advocate was critical of family services for not complying with statutory obligations. If my memory serves me correctly, the ACA had to make 45 applications to the Children's Court to get family services to provide annual review reports for children in care as required by the act. The Community Advocate also noted that the chief executive has consistently failed to forward to the ACA reports of abuse and neglect concerning children who are in care.

The Community Advocate commented thus in her annual report to this Assembly but did anyone here notice this? Not really. It is hoped that the attitudinal and cultural change indicated in evidence from family services is actual and not illusionary.

To single out one department though would be to do it an injustice and to allow others to escape discharging their responsibilities. There is a need for attention not just from the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services but also Justice and Community Safety, Disability, Housing and Community Services just to name the principal bureaucratic entities. In this regard I'm aware that the government has released the children's planned discussion paper and has shown its intentions regarding young offenders with the Turnaround project, which seems to be bearing fruit. I congratulate

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