Page 3156 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013
MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Disability, Children and Young People, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Women, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (4.51): The ACT government is in the unique position to be able to assist, support and engage all Canberrans to reach their potential in whatever walk of life. Our aim is to build on a connected community where people of all backgrounds feel included, cared for and able to determine their futures. This is fundamentally what the Community Services Directorate strives to achieve every day and ACT Labor’s 2013-14 budget continues this direction.
Our budget investment is coupled with structural and service reforms that, in combination, aim to make it easier for people to benefit from the support, opportunities and the services we provide. Arguably, one of the biggest of focuses of our government in recent years has been on children and young people, particularly in out-of-home care and the justice system. In a responsible, measured approach in the 2013-14 budget, the government has maintained focus on providing the highest standards of support and services to the territory’s children and young people. We have continued our work on refreshing the service culture quality program. Considerable resources have been invested to ensure continuous and sustainable improvement.
This year’s budget has both augmented existing successful programs and funded new initiatives. New initiatives include a commitment of $3 million over four years to establish a trauma recovery and research centre, which will provide invaluable support to children recovering from abuse and neglect. The government has also committed $5 million over four years for youth engagement and family support with a focus on helping our young people and their families during transition points in their lives.
Of these funds, $4.5 million will go towards employing specialist outreach workers to engage with young people and their families. In addition, $500,000 will go to Diversity ACT over four years to help them provide quality support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people. I notice that Mr Wall made a comment about being unclear where that funding will go because we have got a conversation within the DPU sector about some level of that funding. Indeed, Mr Wall, we are doing that because the peak bodies of the youth sector wanted to work in a co-design method with us on some of those unallocated funds within that program. It is not a lack of leadership. I think it is absolutely leadership. In fact, we have listened and responded to the community’s request by saying that there is a level of funding there that you have not attributed directly to a program, such as youth workers and diversity, and we want to be part of that discussion. I think that is fair and reasonable.
A commitment of $250,000 over two years has been made to address issues with the client information system used by Care and Protection. $150,000 of this will go towards a feasibility study for upgrading or replacing the existing system, with the remaining $100,000 to be spent on immediate improvements to the existing system. To expand existing programs, $1.2 million will be dedicated to the expansion of the