Page 2122 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 June 2015

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provide for the implementation of a system of regulatory oversight for providers of services for children and young people in the ACT. The bill is an integral part of delivering the ACT government’s out-of-home care strategy, a step up for our kids 2015-20.

It is a strategy that sets a new direction for the way that children and young people and their families are supported within the care and protection system within the ACT. Importantly, it is a strategy that places the child and young person and their needs firmly at the centre of decision-making. In this way, the voices of children and young people will be heard, to ensure that their care and support will give them what is needed to have good lives.

Specifically, the strategy recognises that most children and young people who come into care have experienced trauma that may have a lasting impact on their lives and their relationships. Such recognition requires that services and supports for children and young people must be built around a therapeutic trauma-informed approach. This approach is a significant departure from the traditional model of care, whereby a child or young person was placed in a home with the intention that they would thrive and go on to lead productive and happy lives.

In many cases this did happen, but too many children and young people did not get the support they needed. Their lives continued, punctuated by dysfunction or disadvantage that in too many cases meant that another generation of children were also unable to get a good start in life. So a step up for our kids signals real change in the way that government and community are working to improve the lives of children and young people in out-of-home care and those that care for them.

The strategy also acknowledges that this shift is about recasting the kinds of services that are needed in the system. Service providers in the non-government sector will have a much greater role in the out-of-home care sector, bringing new responsibilities to how they play their important part in supporting children and young people to have good lives.

I add here that the development of the strategy, and subsequently the bill before us today, has been informed by recommendations of the Public Advocate and the Auditor-General, including several that are about the accreditation and monitoring of services. I am sure that everyone is also very aware that strong regulatory oversight has been a focus for the ongoing royal commission into institutional child abuse. Each of these factors has influenced the amendments presented in this bill.

As members would be aware, the key elements of the out-of-home care strategy are strengthening high risk families, creating a continuum of care, and strengthening accountability and ensuring a high functioning care system. The amendments to the Children and Young People Act 2008 contained in this bill relate directly to the third element—strengthening accountability and ensuring a high functioning care system. The bill will provide for a clear regulatory framework within the authority for oversight and graduated intervention powers that are proportionate to each risk.

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