Page 2454 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 1 July 2008

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department, and there is that awful fear that their children will be taken away. While mandatory recording and collaboration between the department and the various support agencies is fundamental to improving outcomes for these children and young people and their families, it can create distrust and make things more difficult.

The bill does have provision for wraparound services, and the department is running some great programs. We need to be mindful that there are people who have had bad experiences with care and protection or who have poor knowledge of how the system works and who will be unlikely to ask for help until it is too late. Is the mother with a drug issue going to report that she is having trouble looking after her children when she fears that she will be criminalised? There are so many issues that people will have to toss up, and I can understand that even people with the best of intentions for their parenting may have reluctance about seeking help. That is why we need more liaison with the community. We need to develop community awareness, but not in a punitive way. It must be done in a way that is about a caring community.

I have to commend the work that is being done in the child and family centres. I think that is a really excellent approach. I think the early childhood schools, if they do what the government hopes they will do, will also assist in this process. Really, the basis needs to be the education of families in a child-friendly and easy-to-understand manner on how the care and protection system works and how they can use it to make their lives better for their kids. I think that is the intention of this legislation.

We need to ensure that any services which interact with families can help or at least point to help. We need greater use of schools, childcare services and community organisations to make sure that the information is out there and accessible and that people see it as supportive and not punitive. We need to make the care and protection offices themselves more child friendly and inviting places to visit. One comment made to me was that when they were out in the community, out in the town centres, they were much more accessible. Now, with the security arrangements, they are extremely unfriendly places for people to visit.

Funding to community organisations needs to be less specific and more flexible to allow appropriate responses for the benefit of children and their families with complex needs. We also need to recognise that children do not become self-sufficient, well-adjusted adults with full knowledge of the law and how to access services at 18 years of age just because they are 18.

The Create Foundation’s transitioning-from-care report card shows up the ACT as one of the worst jurisdictions in Australia for supporting kids who are exiting care. The minister’s officers informed my staff that individual arrangements can be made for assistance past the age of 18, generally for education purposes, but that this requires an aware young adult who is able to do further investigation and research and additional resources and commitment. If they are not aware they need advocates, who is?

I would like to raise a few points in relation to the corrections aspect of this bill. Clause 171—access to the open air for two hours a day—is just not good enough. This is particularly so at present when “open air” can mean access to a small, internal,

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