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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 3 June 2015) . . Page.. 1925 ..

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Planning, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Minister for Children and Young People and Minister for Ageing) (10.55): Firstly, I thank my colleague Dr Bourke for bringing forward this important motion this morning. As the Treasurer said yesterday, this budget is a budget for Canberra, and it is also a budget about people and the values we hold as a government. I want particularly to reflect on the parts of Dr Bourke’s motion that relate to areas in my portfolio and the key themes of urban renewal, addressing social inclusion and inequity.

The 2015-16 budget will step up for some of Canberra’s most vulnerable individuals, with more than $45 million in funding over four years to support children, young people and their families. Support for vulnerable children and young people is among the centrepieces of the 2015-16 ACT budget, with an additional $38.9 million over four years to fund the out of home care system and invest in new services and reforms through the implementation of a step up for our kids.

The aim of this initiative is to prevent the need for children and young people to enter out of home care such as foster care or residential care by providing better support for birth parents in retaining the care of their children, improving outcomes for those in care and, wherever possible, placing children and young people from care into permanent alternative families in a timely manner.

A step up for our kids will create a system of protection and care that fosters better outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families and carers, as well as making it easier to access the support they need when they need it, and for the duration they need.

The budget provided $5.3 million to improve our support for vulnerable children and young people through a new information and record-keeping system. This will improve information security and simplify access and reporting for caseworkers. The new system will be the primary client information and record keeping source for child and youth protection services, and enhance the ability of front-line workers to keep children safe. It will have the ability to interact with a step up for our kids by providing a mechanism for information sharing with community agencies and other government agencies so that they can have the information they need to support children and young people.

This budget also set aside $2.5 million for the Bendora through-care unit at Bimberi to support young people transitioning into the community when they leave detention. This initiative will ensure that staff at Bimberi are able to continue the good work of the transition unit by providing intensive and targeted programs to develop the social and life skills needed for young people when moving from custody to the community. This initiative has been particularly effective at reducing violent incidents within Bimberi, it has assisted in improving educational and health outcomes, reduced offending, and reduced the number of young people who return to custody.

These measures represent a very considerable investment by the ACT government in the lives of our most vulnerable young people, and are important initiatives that will

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