Page 2312 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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This year’s budget includes additional funding to provide targeted intensive family support services to at-risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. There are also significant changes in the way in which care and protection services work with children and families in the ACT. This includes the introduction of the differential response approach, which includes the option for families to be provided with assessment and support to improve the safety of a child and to help to develop parenting skills. The budget also sees an enhanced commitment to support vulnerable families in the Belconnen area through the provision of $200,000 for non-government programs.

Planning for the provision of out-of-home care services for the next three years is well underway. The out-of-home care redesign project is identifying how to best meet the increasingly complex needs of children and young people coming in to care.

Of course, members would also be aware that the new children and young people legislation has been introduced into the Assembly and will be debated next week. This new legislation will mean that new childcare standards will replace the existing conditions. Draft standards are currently also being considered by the sector.

The government has provided $182,000 in the budget to develop a regulatory system to screen people who work with vulnerable people, including children, young people and vulnerable adults. The coming year will also see the opening of the new Bimberi Youth Justice Centre. This facility is able to accommodate 40 children and young people on remand or under committal. It will be run under a best practice operating model which is being developed concurrently with the design in order to ensure that residents have the best possible opportunity for rehabilitation, educational and social development.

This budget reiterates the Labor Party’s strong commitment to early intervention and support for people with disabilities, people with families, children and young people. I commend it to the Assembly.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—part 1.14—Housing ACT—$23,395,000 (net cost of outputs), $14,430,000 (capital injection), totalling $37,825,000

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (9.28): The ACT has the largest per capita rate of public housing in Australia, with assets of over $3 billion in value, representing around 11,600 properties. The sector is still suffering from this government’s past misdeeds, however. In the 2006-07 budget, the Stanhope government actually slashed the ACT housing budget by $33 million over three years.

In that same budget, the government slashed the waiting list of around 2,000 people for public housing by half, by cutting the eligible income threshold for a couple with a child by 37 per cent, from $1,000 to $700 per week. This had the effect of keeping the working poor out of public housing, while private rents had become so high that they were not able to rent in the private market.

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