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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 February 2015) . . Page.. 360 ..


Children and Youth Services Council. I also particularly acknowledge the work of Barnardos Australia, through senior manager Annette Kelly-Egerton; Marymead child and family centre’s Amanda Tobler, the acting CEO; Premier Youth Works, through CEO Matt McGovern; the Richmond Fellowship, through CEO Wilf Rath; our commissioners, Alasdair Roy, the Children and Young People Commissioner, and Helen Watchirs, the Public Advocate of the ACT; Emma Robertson, in her role as Director of the Youth Coalition; Susan Helyar, in her role as Director of the ACT Council of Social Service; and Will Mollison, in his role as executive officer of Families ACT. Those individuals, their organisations and a range of others who I have not mentioned this morning have all contributed to this strategy under the leadership of Minister Gentleman. It is the right thing for this community to be doing now. It shows leadership and social inclusion and equality, which is a key priority for this government in 2015.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (10.46): “A step up for our kids”, the new out of home care strategy, is a culmination of work over, as we heard, years, drawing together the experience of the community sector, affected family members, our community services and other directorates in a whole-of-government approach.

It brings together that expertise across a range of fields. That is because our kids are always worth it. They deserve the best start in life. The children who have, for whatever reason, missed that innocent, carefree childhood deserve all the help we can give to ensure that they reach their full potential as valued members of society. They deserve a caring, supportive environment, wise mentoring and a quality education.

I am particularly pleased in this strategy to see the strong emphasis on assertive engagement with high risk families. “A step up for our kids” is a new way of providing that kind of support, tailoring it to the child’s needs, and the family’s needs, and ensuring a holistic approach to finding the best outcome for the child.

Indeed, I am reminded of the holistic approach of community-controlled Aboriginal health services such as Winnunga Nimmityjah, which I talked about last week as classic Indigenous social theory. It is about dealing as much as possible with the individual’s need as a member of a community, not just applying, in that case, a particular medical model to care. Sadly, as with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in other jurisdictions, Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is over-represented by children in out of home care and families at risk.

“A step up for our kids” will provide more support for these families, hopefully before they reach crisis point, with intensive prevention and reunification services intended to support high risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to stay together. Practical in-home support to address issues and to create a safe environment for the child will be a priority. It will be backed up by cultural advisers from our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to provide advice to child protection officers.

Let me look at some of the tactics which will be contained in the strategy. We are looking at things like placement prevention, actually preventing kids getting into out of home care in the first place by providing more support to the family. Many


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