Page 514 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 8 March 2011

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This may include putting together a specialist team focused on supporting young people from the age of 15.

Then it goes on to say:

There are many professionals within DHCS who would enjoy the opportunity to support these young people in their transition from care.

Why that concerns me so much is because I would have thought those professionals within DHCS were already doing that. I would have thought they were already working with these young people to support them to transition seamlessly out of care. So it does concern me. Why are we saying there are people who would love to do this when my assumption was that there are people already in there doing it?

I guess that links in with the discussion paper I put out on this very important issue. I felt that it was important to actually put forward some sort of action plan and there are around five actions. One of them was around funding a non-government organisation to provide that advocacy, that support, bringing together coordination and integration of services and so forth. That really does need to happen if we are to make some progress in the area.

I have not received the letter that Mrs Dunne was referring to before, but I have no doubt it probably again talks about that lack of integration of service and coordination and support. We know that there are many young people who do fall through the gaps and whose outcomes in life unfortunately look pretty grim and pretty bleak because they are not provided with the support and opportunities that they really should be given.

We have so much research on this issue. We have so many report cards that come out. We actually need to see some concrete action. I really am disappointed to hear about frameworks and integration and so forth. I really would like government to come out and say: “Yes, we agree we are not doing well in this area. We need to do better. We don’t want these young people turning up in our homelessness statistics. We don’t want them turning up in our prison. We don’t want them turning up in our mental health services. We are going to ensure that they can pursue education and training, they can pursue employment and they can contribute to this community and also be supported by this community.”

So I would very much urge the minister to go back and talk to the department and push for more concrete steps in this direction, and I do hope that the next time we receive a statement it really is putting in place some funding, some resourcing and a very clear direction about how we are going to support such a vulnerable and important group of young people here in Canberra.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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