Page 3551 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 12 September 2017

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ACT Together, led by Barnardos, has a dedicated carer recruitment team that has developed an innovative carer recruitment strategy. This includes promoting foster care through several mediums, including social media, radio, print, stalls and information sessions.

There are various types of foster care, from short-term emergency care to becoming a permanent carer. I would encourage anyone thinking about taking on this rewarding role to contact 1300 WE FOSTER to have a chat. Recently, a new committee has been established by child and youth protection services and ACT Together to focus on carer wellbeing. The committee’s membership includes carers with lived experience of kinship and foster care.

As I mentioned, new advocacy support and engagement services under A step up for our kids are also important elements of the service system. Carers ACT’s kinship and foster care advocacy service, which I mentioned earlier, complements our supports for children, young people and birth families, including through the children and young people engagement support service operated by the CREATE Foundation, and birth family advocacy support services operated by Australian Red Cross.

These services support the very important goal of families, carers, children and young people, community organisations and government working together collaboratively to make the best decisions for the safety and wellbeing of a child or young person when they need our support the most.

MS ORR: Minister, how is ACT government working with the Red Cross to support families who are engaged with the child and youth protection system?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Orr for her supplementary question. As I mentioned, new advocacy, support and engagement services under A step up for our kids are a critical element of the system. The birth family advocacy support service operated by the Australian Red Cross provides independent information and support to birth families with children in care or with children at risk of entering care. The aim of this service is for parents to be supported and empowered to engage with the care system in an informed way.

Coming into contact with the child protection system can be a stressful and traumatic time for a parent. Having a better understanding of what may happen during the process goes a long way towards making this extremely fraught time a little easier. This includes information on what parents’ rights are, the rights of their children, and the legal obligations of Child and Youth Protection Services. That is why CYPS has worked with the Australian Red Cross and the Women’s Legal Centre to develop new “Working together for kids” guides.

These guides, which replace a previous single book, have been made available in hard copy and online to inform families about the child protection process and the roles and responsibilities of those involved. These guides provide straightforward, accessible information about child concern reports and what happens when one is made; going to court and working to reunite families; what happens when children are

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