Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 May 2017) . . Page.. 1598 ..
The consultation leading to the design of A step up for our kids, our significant five-year reform strategy for out-of-home care, told us that stability and permanency of placement of children and young people must be a priority for children to thrive. Carers, children and experienced practitioners all told us that periods of uncertainty and instability increased children’s experience of trauma and chance of poor life outcomes.
That is why A step up for our kids put as a priority achieving permanency and stability with a loving family as early as possible. It is important that proposals for changes to reviewable decisions be considered within the context of the lived experiences of children and young people. It is important, for example, to ensure that children and young people are not put in a position of having their stability and security with families disrupted by lengthy, intrusive or duplicative review processes.
In undertaking to update the Assembly on the specific commitments made by the government that are referred to in this motion and my amendment, I also note that the ACT government has committed to presenting a family violence statement to the Legislative Assembly each year. I understand that the first annual statement will be tabled in June. I commend the amendment to the Assembly and am confident that it achieves what Mrs Kikkert was aiming for, and indeed goes further.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (4.55): I thank Mrs Kikkert for her motion, which I support in principle. However, I believe that the amendment circulating in my name, combined with the amendment previously circulated by Ms Stephen-Smith, achieves the same result in a more concise way.
What is agreed by all parties—and, I am sure, people within this Assembly—is that the decision-making, quality assurance and oversight of the child and protection services in the ACT are important aspects of ensuring that we are doing our best for children and young people who are the responsibility of the territory.
I am proposing this amendment because the ACT government response to the Glanfield inquiry makes it clear that the resources of the Public Advocate and the Children and Young People Commissioner, and the Community Services Directorate’s ability to respond to those inquiries, should be reviewed. The number of review requests pursuant to section 879 of the Children and Young People Act 2008 has increased considerably. In 2015-16, there were 143 requests for 113 children and young people, compared with 14 in the previous year and 50 the year before.
The children and young people section of the office of the Public Advocate has been chronically under-resourced for many years, with only one senior advocate—that is, one full-time FTE—having dedicated responsibility for the functions relating to children and young people. Given that there was a 40 per cent increase in the number of children and young people brought to the attention of the office from 2014-15 to 2015-16, the resourcing is of significant concern.