Page 3928 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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caring for young adults and is an area that the Greens and my former colleague Meredith Hunter have long called for to be properly resourced. I applaud the government moves to have this reflected in legislation.

I also mention that my office has received some more general feedback from stakeholders about the professional development needs of the non-government sector going forward and the need for easily accessible and plain language publication of the rights, responsibilities and roles of the sector under this new framework. I understand these issues will continue to be worked through in the coming months.

Overall this bill, when taken in conjunction with the previous bills and the changes in service provision, funding arrangements and the makeup of the local sector, will see a challenging implementation but one that I am optimistic will provide a much more coordinated and effective response to the care of our children and young people.

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) (6.24), in reply: I thank members for their contribution to this bill today. The purpose of the bill is to give effect to a number of important elements foreshadowed in a step up for our kids: ACT’s out of home care strategy 2015-2020.

The features of the bill were consulted on broadly and clearly identified in the strategy. Prior to this, proposed amendments were canvassed in discussion papers released in the development of a step up for our kids. The amendments have also been through the scrutiny of bills committee and the human rights implications have been well canvassed through this forum and found to be compliant.

These amendments will ensure that children and young people are placed at the centre of decision making and that the focus is on their best interests. In this way, children and young people will have every chance to grow and develop and are supported to be their best in a loving, safe and stable home.

The bill contains 66 clauses of amendments in the following areas: establishing stability in a family environment for babies as early as possible; transferring full parental responsibility for a child to a carer as early as possible; ensuring quality of care for children and young people in foster and kinship care; simplifying the approval process for carers; supporting young people to transition into adulthood; sharing information about children and young people with the care team; maintaining a life story for children and young people in care; enhancing safeguards for children and young people in care; third-party oversight of the proposed amendments; and minor, technical and consequential amendments. I will now go into more detail about these areas.

The first set of amendments is about establishing stability in a family environment as early as possible and relates to clauses 14, 15, and 16 that concern children under two years of age and short-term parental responsibility provisions of a care and protection order. Toddlers and babies under two are extremely vulnerable. It is a time of significant development for a child when foundational experiences can have lifelong impacts on a person. This is why placement stability without undue delay is critical.

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