Page 355 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 17 February 2015

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Out of home care strategy

Ministerial statement

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Planning, Minister for Roads and Parking, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Minister for Children and Young People and Minister for Ageing) (10.27), by leave: Madam Speaker, as the Minister for Children and Young People I thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Assembly today about “A step up for our kids: one step can make a lifetime of difference”, the ACT’s new five-year strategy for out of home care.

There is no greater responsibility for our community than stepping up for vulnerable children and young people. Indeed, we all have a responsibility to ensure that we step up for all vulnerable Canberrans, and as Minister for Children and Young People I feel this responsibility keenly, which is why I was so proud to stand together with the Chief Minister on 22 January this year to launch “A step up for our kids”, a strategy that will see an additional $16 million investment in the future of our most vulnerable children and young people.

Around the country, child protection and out of home care services are facing many challenges, such as increasing numbers of children and young people entering care, significant over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in care, many young people finding it hard to adjust to life as adults when they leave care, a need for more carers, an ageing profile of kinship carers, and the need to create more financially sustainable systems. The ACT’s care system is not immune to these challenges and although we have had many advances in recent years it is time for the ACT to step up and deliver on a whole-of-system reform.

“A step up for our kids” is about investing in better ways and enhancing proven ways of keeping children out of care when it is safe to do so. We are embarking on a major reform of out of home care services but the aim is simple: give children in out of home care better lives.

How do we do this? By ensuring the support we provide to children and young people better meets their needs, by providing the right service at the right time and for the right duration, by providing support earlier and reducing a need for intrusive and expensive intervention, by providing more support to keep families together where appropriate, by ensuring that our kinship and foster carers get the support that they need when caring for children and young people, and by providing out of home care agencies with the autonomy that they have asked for to be able to provide the best support possible for children and young people. Since “A step up for our kids” was formally launched last month there has been a great deal of work done to prepare for the full service implementation from January 2016.

Just a couple of weeks ago I visited Karinya House to announce a $736,000 expansion to this excellent service. Karinya House already provides supported accommodation and transitional housing and outreach support to pregnant women, mothers and their families who are in crisis. Through “A step up for our kids” we are proposing to

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