Page 4057 - Week 13 - Thursday, 31 October 2013

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Thursday, 31 October 2013

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Strengthening families initiative

Ministerial statement

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) (10.00), by leave: I would like to thank the Assembly for the opportunity to speak about the strengthening families initiative. Some families in our city have multiple and complex needs requiring access to a range of services in order to meet the day-to-day challenges of their lives. These challenges include living with mental illness, disability and chronic health conditions, as well as involvement with statutory services such as child protection. These challenges can lead to financial stress, isolation and cycles of crisis.

Today, I will speak to you about some of the issues facing these families and the challenges for all governments in meeting their needs. I will also report on the exciting work that this government is doing under the strengthening families initiative to work towards a more positive future which will put these families at the centre of their own support network.

In late 2011 a whole-of-government project was initiated to achieve integrated service delivery for ACT families with multiple and complex needs. The project was initiated by the ACT Public Service Strategic Board as a one government approach to a complex public policy issue. The strategic board recognised that some families were not succeeding despite the involvement of multiple services and, at times, long-term engagement with the service system. A lack of success included poor outcomes for individuals, including children, compared with other community members, and migration to higher cost services and interventions. This issue is not unique in any way to the ACT. However, this government is committed to making changes to improve lives.

In early 2012 the Community Services Directorate commenced a research project aimed at better understanding the experiences of families accessing multiple services in the ACT. This work was undertaken through an innovative co-design approach with families, government and community service providers. The work involved a small number of people, but had a big impact on the way we understand the service experience in the ACT.

We found that while the service system works well for most, it is complex and not responsive enough for some families with multiple needs. Families were given a voice and asked to tell their story in their own words and based on their own experiences. I am sure this in itself provided them with a sense of empowerment. Families described

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