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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 May 2015) . . Page.. 1407 ..

We will further develop parents’ skills by providing programs that focus on positive interactions between parents and their children to assist parents in learning how to recognise and meet their child’s emotional needs and to constructively respond to children’s behaviours.

We understand that issues experienced by families are often complex. To support families to step up for their children, they will need to be linked to other support services such as mental health, drug and alcohol support or NDIS disability services, so that they can receive the most appropriate support to get their lives on track. Families may be linked with better services networks such as the gateway service and the strengthening families program.

We will support new mothers with babies, through the expansion of the Karinya House facility. Through this expansion, we are investing in a new level of service, including a mother and baby unit which will provide supervision and support for up to three months. All mothers should have a chance to parent their child; and for those who are assessed as high risk parents, learning to care for a child in a supported environment can make all the difference. We want to keep families together and provide all the support we can to vulnerable families to make this happen. We will retain the flexibility to work with families for an ongoing period where they are fully engaged in services and working towards parenting their children at home.

We are undertaking a major reform of out of home care. I expect that through this reform we will begin to see significant evidence of change for children, young people and their families over the coming years. The pathway has been mapped out, and now it is time for us to take the first step and step up for vulnerable children and young people.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

Dr BOURKE: Minister, can you tell us more about how, under a step up for our kids, children and young people will benefit from the creation of a continuum of care?

Mr GENTLEMAN: A step up for our kids is a major step in providing supports that place children and young people at the centre of the care system. We have listened to our community and based our approach on sound research. One significant development is creating a system that is more stable and allows children and young people to be supported by the same service provider throughout their time in care. This stability is key to providing the environment for children to thrive.

The main aim of a step up for our kids is to keep or reunite children with their families. Where this is not possible, we will work to ensure children and young people have the stability, care and support they need to build their new lives. The groundwork for stability will be investment in permanency through legislative changes that reduce the time a child must wait before decisions about permanent placements can be made. We will continue to step up for young people as they approach 18 years, and the carer subsidy will continue until age 21, where appropriate, to support a young person’s transition into adulthood.

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