Page 4663 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 31 October 2017

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this work is critical if we are going to deliver a truly therapeutic, trauma-informed system. Most importantly, I want to acknowledge the foster and kinship carers who are truly the backbone of the system. It has been an honour to meet many of them over the last year, and I look forward to continuing that engagement.

The work of our child and youth protection services is critical to the safety of many children and young people in the ACT. It is difficult and demanding work and in the ACT we have seen a significant and sustained increase in demand over the past 24 months. The government has responded by providing major investment in front-line government and community partner services.

In the 2017-18 budget the government committed an additional $43.8 million over four years to support our child protection system. This funding is supporting a comprehensive continuum of care approach, which, importantly, includes early intervention to help families at risk of involvement with the child protection system. It will also provide the government with two additional child and youth protection casework teams to continue the vital role they play in our community in keeping children and young people safe from harm.

To further bolster the rights of young people in the ACT, in July the government introduced the charter of rights for young people in the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre. The charter is based on international agreements to which Australia is a signatory and provides children and young people with an accessible guide to their rights and entitlements and to their responsibilities while they are at Bimberi. It reinforces our commitment to human rights and provides a focus for the voices of young people in the youth justice system.

The ACT has led the country in delivering a joined-up child protection and youth justice system. Throughout the year ACT officials have welcomed visitors from a number of other Australian jurisdictions, and we remain committed to sharing our experience and learning from others to deliver the highest standard of care and support for Canberra’s most vulnerable children and young people.

We have also improved the experience of those involved in adoption. In March I tabled on behalf of the government its response to the review of the domestic adoption process in the ACT. I would particularly like to thank the people who have been adopted, adoptive parents, foster carers and kinship carers who shared their experiences to inform the report. As a result of this process, better information is now more easily available regarding the adoption process in the ACT. Further work is underway to improve our services to be as inclusive and cognisant of the experiences of people in the adoption process as possible.

The Canberra community is proud of its vibrant and active Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. In 2017 a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body was elected. We remain the only jurisdiction with such a body to inform the actions of government. Achieving equitable outcomes and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a key objective of this government and I am pleased that we continue to make progress against the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agreement signed with the elected body in 2015.

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