Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 September 2017) . . Page.. 3887 ..
Children and young people—out of home care
MRS KIKKERT: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Children and Youth. Minister, you have repeatedly told this Assembly and the media that one of the main factors driving the 32 per cent increase in kids in out of home care since 2012 has been increased community awareness leading to increased reporting. Data from the AIHW, however, show that the number of children entering out of home care in the ACT actually declined in 2013 and has held steady since then. Minister, is it the case that children in out of home care are staying in such care for longer periods?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Without having the AIHW data in front of me, I am not willing to accept the premise of the question entirely. We certainly have seen both an increase in reporting—child concern reports—and an increase in the number of children coming into care over recent years. We have obviously responded to that with a record investment in this latest budget. Madam Speaker, I have now forgotten the question; I am sorry.
MRS KIKKERT: I will repeat it. Minister, is it the case that children in out of home care are staying in such care for longer periods?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Thank you, Mrs Kikkert, for repeating the end of that question. It is actually the case that under A step up for our kids, one of the fundamental premises of that strategy is that, if children come into care and they are not able to be returned to their birth parents, and in recognition of the trauma that is involved in bringing children into out of home care, we actually seek to ensure that they find a permanent, safe, secure and loving home where they can stay and grow and thrive. That is actually one of the fundamental premises on which the step up strategy is built.
Mrs Kikkert: A point of order. The minister actually didn’t answer my question: is it the case that children in out of home care are staying in such care for longer periods?
MADAM SPEAKER: Mrs Kikkert, there is no point of order. I cannot direct a minister as to how to answer a question. Ask your supplementary question.
MRS KIKKERT: Minister, how exactly does increased community awareness result in children spending longer time in out of home care?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: What I have repeatedly said is that increased awareness of the impact of family violence and indeed the impact of child abuse and neglect more generally have led to an increase in child concern reports. The fact that children are staying in permanent families where they are being supported to grow and thrive is actually not something that I have connected with an increased awareness of family violence. So I have connected an increased awareness of family violence to an increase in reporting and increased pressure on the child protection and out of home care system.