Page 1096 - Week 03 - Thursday, 26 February 2009

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Health and Disability—Standing Committee

Report 5—government response

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Planning and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Health and Disability—Standing Committee—Report 8—The early intervention and care of vulnerable infants (Sixth Assembly)—Government response.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

I am pleased to table for the information of members the ACT government response to the Standing Committee on Health and Disability report The early intervention and care of vulnerable infants. The report was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 28 August last year. On 13 February 2008, the Standing Committee on Health and Disability resolved to conduct an inquiry into the early intervention and care of vulnerable children in the ACT, with a particular focus on the unborn child and infants aged between zero and two. The inquiry was chaired by Ms Karin MacDonald and committee members included Ms Porter and former member Mrs Jacqui Burke.

The ACT government welcomes the standing committee report. The report supports the ACT government’s commitment to Canberra’s children. It acknowledges the role of government in supporting parents to provide the best care for their children and facilitating early intervention strategies for families and children who are at risk.

The ACT government is committed to children having the best possible start in life. The importance of early intervention and prevention strategies is supported by compelling research that has demonstrated that trauma before birth, in infancy and in early childhood may seriously impede brain development. The extent to which a child is able to develop optimally in the early years has a critical impact on their ability to thrive, learn and participate in future years.

Under the recently released Canberra plan: towards our second century, early intervention for children at risk and families is identified as a priority area for ongoing policy development and integrated service responses. This will include the formulation of the ACT government’s comprehensive approach to early childhood services. These services invest in the health, development, education and wellbeing of young children.

Furthermore, the ACT government, as part of the Council of Australian Governments’ reform agenda, is progressing initiatives which have a particular focus on the development and wellbeing of all children and their families, and vulnerable families and children in particular.

The ACT government commenced a process of reform of services for children in 2003-04. The development of the ACT children’s plan and the ACT young people’s

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