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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2010) . . Page.. 316 ..

Questions without notice

Employment—children in care

MS HUNTER: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People and concerns the education and employment of children in care. In the CREATE report card 2009 on transitioning from care one of the main recommendations was that special attention must be directed to applying the principle of earn or learn to young people transitioning from care. Minister, in implementing the new earn or learn legislation, what has the government done to assist young people transitioning from care to continue in education or gain employment?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Hunter for her question. The transition out of care is something that I take as a priority. It is very important that beyond the period of care children are transitioned and supported to secure ongoing education or employment. The earn or learn principle draws into that partnership my department and the Department of Education and Training. It draws in community partners and employment partners as well. Through those collaborative frameworks we take a child-centred, person-centred, approach and work with them on an individual basis to see what their needs and aspirations are. We work on an almost case-by-case plan. We work with them and the families with whom they are situated in care. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We will work to ensure, as earn and learn progresses over this year and next year, that those transitions and pathways are in place.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, a supplementary question?

MS HUNTER: Can you advise us how the department monitors and ensures each child transitioning from care is completing education or is in employment?

MS BURCH: Our responsibilities for children up to the age of 18 are quite clear. We manage them, wherever they are in care and whatever their transition and their pathways into adulthood, whether that be employment and education and housing and a whole range of things. While I have a personal interest in doing this to find how the department best works with those quite fragile periods beyond 17, 18 and 19, being a mother of three children I have to fess that my children did not become the font of wisdom at 18. So I think there are some parameters on which I am working and talking with the department about how we can change that.

But, to your question, I think it is on an individual basis and I think, as this new system is implemented and the partnerships come into place, we can work through that to ensure that we do have the ability to follow these children and we do have the ability to see where they go and to set them on the best path we have so they can be sustainable either in education or employment.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Bresnan, a supplementary question?

MS BRESNAN: Is the chief executive officer of your department, as the territory parent, informed when each child in care is suspended or expelled from school?

MS BURCH: Yes, they are.

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