Page 2404 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 August 2015

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Improving educational outcomes for children in care and on youth justice orders

Ministerial statement

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Planning, Minister for Roads and Parking, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Minister for Children and Young People and Minister for Ageing) (10.17): I would like to talk about education possibilities for our children in care. For most of us, Canberra is a great place to live; a city full of brilliant possibilities waiting to be realised. But not everyone is able to make the most of these opportunities. Some children and young people face challenges many of us cannot imagine.

As is the case nationally, the ACT community faces many challenges providing out of home care services for vulnerable children and young people. We know outcomes for children and young people who have been in care are generally poorer than the broader community, whether socially, in education or in employment. We know young people who exit the care system are less likely to be employed and are at greater risk of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence as adults. Most concerning, though, is that adults who have experienced out of home care are more likely to have children who are subjected to abuse, trauma and neglect.

As I have said, the ACT is not alone—these challenges are faced by out of home care service providers across Australia. To give children and young people a chance to transform their lives, we know we need to step up for kids to improve their educational outcomes. We are doing this across the system in partnership with the community. We are providing educational opportunities and focusing on the educational needs of our most vulnerable children and young people. I thank the Assembly for the opportunity today to outline how we are stepping up to improve educational outcomes for children and young people in care and youth justice.

The ACT government’s new $16 million strategy, a step up for our kids—one step can make lifetime of difference, will transform our support for the community’s most vulnerable. At the heart of this strategy is a simple aim, which is to give children in care better lives. We are investing in a range of new services for vulnerable children and young people to give children the most stable, productive lives possible and truly putting their needs at the centre.

There are many initiatives within a step up for our kids: creating a continuum of care; providing training to carers and professionals to better understand the trauma children and young people have endured; and placing more of an emphasis on securing permanent homes for children and young people. We have listened to the community and based our approach on sound research. One of the most significant developments will be creating a system that is much more stable and, in fact, allows a child or young person to be supported by the same service provider throughout their time in care. This stability will be key in providing opportunities for children and young people to thrive, as it is for anyone.

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