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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 May 2016) . . Page.. 1386 ..

education or in employment. We know that 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. 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.

A step up for our kids is an additional $16 million investment in the future of our community’s most vulnerable children and young people and transforms the way we support them. It will create a therapeutic trauma-informed system of care, giving children in care more stable lives by enabling the organisations to provide a continuous system of care that stays with a child throughout their care experience.

Madam Deputy Speaker, a step up for our kids was developed over a two-year period in consultation with young people, foster and kinship carers, out of home care agencies, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bodies, peak bodies, and non-government and government services. Research undertaken by the Parenting and Research Centre and the University of Melbourne provided rigorous analysis of evidence for out of home care interventions. This research and extensive consultation informed the development of a step up for our kids and its key domains and is reflected in the amendments sought by this bill and in the previous amendments to the Children and Young People Act 2008.

Through this bill we are supporting the overarching principles of a step up for our kids by promoting more timely decision-making for children and young people by those who know them best; easier access to protected information and personal items for young people; and streamlined and simplified administrative processes. The best outcomes for children and young people in care are achieved when those who have care of a child or young person have the responsibility to make the decisions that affect them.

I propose enabling the delegation of a number of functions from the Director-General of the Community Services Directorate to the responsible person for an approved kinship and foster care organisation. These include the delegation of parental responsibility and the delegation of the power to make decisions about placements.

This bill will allow the delegation of decision-making to those closest to a child or young person, distancing government from their lives and enabling a more authentic experience of family life. New services under a step up for our kids will have a greater share of responsibility for children and young people in care transferred to the responsible person of approved foster and kinship care organisations.

It is important to note that whilst certain powers can be delegated, the director-general retains ultimate responsibility for children in care. The delegation of further responsibilities will give these organisations greater autonomy in providing care, giving vulnerable children and young people the most stable, productive lives possible. This will also result in a reduction in the three-way relationship between Child and Youth Protection Services, out of home care providers and carers and provide more timely decision-making.

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