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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 February 2015) . . Page.. 358 ..

I present the following paper:

Out of Home Care Strategy 2015-2020—A Step Up for Our Kids—One Step Can Make a Lifetime of Difference—Ministerial statement, 17 February 2015.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Urban Renewal and Minister for Tourism and Events) (10.38): I thank Mr Gentleman for bringing this matter to the Assembly this morning to update us on his good work in this portfolio.

For most of us our city, Canberra, is a great place to live. It is a city full of brilliant possibilities that are waiting to be realised. It is a city with the country’s best education system. It is a city with the country’s best health system, the best employment outcomes in Australia but, most importantly, it is an inclusive city where we each help each other to take the next step up. But not everyone in Canberra is able to make the most of these opportunities.

So the unveiling last month of this enhanced strategy to help our community step up for its most vulnerable people, children and young people who have been abused or neglected, is a timely reminder of the importance of this issue and also of the government’s clear focus on social inclusion and equality as a major priority for us in 2015. The five-year, $16 million strategy for children in care and the wider system Mr Gentleman has outlined can make a difference and will make a difference, and the government, in partnership with the community sector and individuals in our city, can step up and make that difference.

The strategy, as I have indicated and as Minister Gentleman has outlined, provides an additional $16 million in the coming three years for out of home care. Children and young people in the out of home care system are amongst the most vulnerable in our community and clearly have a range of complex needs that require specialised support, and “A step up for our kids” provides key services that put the child at the centre by focusing on their needs, reducing disruptions to their support, providing better support for their families and their carers and creating systemic change in our out of home care system.

The strategy has been developed following two years of consultation—with children, with families, with carers, with service providers and with other stakeholders. As Minister Gentleman has said, the main elements include strengthening support for high risk families to prevent children from entering the care system in the first place; where appropriate, assisting children to get back with their birth families as quickly as possible; an expansion of Karinya House, a dedicated facility for struggling mothers whose babies are at risk of entering care; creating a more complete system where a child is supported by the same organisation throughout their progression into adulthood rather than changing as they mature; reducing the time a carer must wait

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