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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 September 2017) . . Page.. 3550 ..

of the windows unless for access to relevant balconies. But I reject the assumption that it has any impact on the safety of staff, visitors or patients at Canberra Hospital. I did outline those measures in the statement earlier this morning.

Children and young people—foster care

MR STEEL: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Children and Youth. This week is Foster and Kinship Care Week. How does foster and kinship care contribute to supporting Canberra’s most vulnerable children and young people?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Steel for his very important question and his interest in this topic. We mark Foster and Kinship Care Week from 10 to 16 September to recognise and thank foster and kinship carers for their important contribution to our community.

Foster carers and kinship carers are the backbone of our out-of-home system. Carers open their homes and their hearts to some of the most vulnerable children and young people in our community. In fact, I encourage anyone who has not yet watched last night’s Australian Story about two amazing foster parents who made a real difference in many children’s lives to take the opportunity to do so.

Where children cannot live safely with their birth families it is important that we find them a safe, stable and loving home where they can safely grow and thrive, whether that is for a short period or forever.

Some carers become carers by choice. For others it is about stepping in to help family members experiencing difficulties. No matter whether a person chooses to become a carer or caring chooses them, all carers step up to a vital role and it is important that we support them.

As you would be aware, Madam Speaker, A step up for our kids introduced a range of additional supports and training for carers. In particular, the independent kinship and foster care advocacy support service, delivered by Carers ACT, provides independent support and advice to assist carers and to resolve issues with service providers and child and youth protection services.

I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the ACT government to thank the foster carers and kinship carers in our community who provide a safe, stable and loving home to children and young people when they are most in need.

MR STEEL: Minister, how are the ACT government and the ACT Together consortium working to recruit and support foster and kinship carers?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Steel for his supplementary. The out-of-home care consortium established under A step up for our kids—ACT Together—is responsible for recruiting foster carers in the ACT. I am pleased to inform the Assembly that they are now halfway to their 2017 target of recruiting 80 new foster carers, with 40 new carers so far stepping up to care for some of Canberra’s most vulnerable children.

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