Page 361 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

children and young people are only in out of home care for very short periods. It begs the question: why did they have to go there in the first place? Was there something we could have done? That is what this strategy is going to address.

And then it is looking at reunification, getting kids back with their birth parents where we know they will provide that kind of loving relationship which is so important for that child’s development. There is the mother and baby unit that the ministers have already talked about, working in conjunction with Karinya House, and also the parent and child interaction programs and supporting supervised contact between birth parents and children.

I commend this strategy to the Assembly.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Women and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Social Inclusion and Equality) (10.49): I would also like to talk about how we will step up for Canberra kids through the “A step up for our kids: one step can make a lifetime of difference” strategy.

This is a major piece of work but its aim is simple: to give children and young people in care better lives. We want to provide support to help keep children and young people at home and reduce the need for them to enter care. Through extensive consultation that has been carried out over the last two years, we have been able to identify that we need to step up for higher risk families; we need to develop a continuum of service that provides more stable lives for children; and we need to work more with carers and service providers to help them step up for families.

We have already talked about the five-year strategy that will provide an additional $16 million investment in the future of our most vulnerable children and young people. It is about breaking the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage and keeping children safe at home. It will help to reunify children and young people with parents as quickly as possible and, if this is not possible, help to find a long-term, loving family. And it will create a therapeutic, trauma-informed care system which responds more effectively to the needs of children and young people.

Among the components in the new strategy is more support for keeping families together, with services to prevent children and young people entering the care system or to get them back with their birth families as soon as possible. These components include the whole-of-government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agreement, the territory as parent strategy and the NDIS.

Achieving a reduction in the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in care is one of the key goals of the out of home care strategy. However, for the achievement to be meaningful it must be the outcome of genuine improved safety and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people at risk. Dr Bourke has already talked about the great work that Winnunga Nimmityjah has been doing, and continues to do, in supporting people in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video